Garden visits Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day Travelog

Longwood Gardens’ Christmas Show: Breathtaking!

Serre d'exposition
Exhibition Hall in its Christmas finery.

For over 30 years I have gone to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, about 1 hour east of Philadelphia, at least once a year, usually as a garden tour leader, but often on my own. Sometimes I get to go 2 or 3 times. Longwood is, I must admit, my favorite garden in the world… and I have visited gardens all over the planet!

Over the years, I’ve had opportunities to visit Longwood in late winter, in the spring, at the beginning, the middle and the end of the summer, but never at Christmas… and yet, that is the time of year when Longwood is the most visited because its Christmas show has the reputation of being absolutely magical.

Well, you can put that statement in the past tense, because yesterday I finally visited Longwood (with a group of 32 other amateur beautiful gardens) to see its fabulous winter show: A Longwood Christmas.

Boule de poinsettias, serre principale
A huge ball of poinsettia hangs from the ceiling in the Main Conservatory.

Imagine! Longwood is already stunning in any season… so when they put on a special show, it is even more spectacular. True enough, there are no longer any flowers in the outdoor gardens in December, but in the vast greenhouses, there is color beyond belief all year long… and at this season, it is even more exciting thanks to the Christmas plants and decorations. Imagine borders of poinsettias, kalanchoes, amaryllis, lilies, etc. practically as far as the eye can see, huge poinsettia balls suspended from the roof and even poinsettias grown as trees! And everywhere, there are holiday decorations: garlands, Christmas trees, and so much more. There is even a Christmas sing-along organ concert in the greenhouses!

Arbres de Noël à l'entrée de la serre de l'est
Entrance to the East Conservatory at night.

What draws the crowds though, are the night displays: dozens of trees illuminated by thousands of lights decorate the gardens both indoors and out, plus fountain gardens brilliantly illuminated and playing seasonal music. It is easy to understand why Longwood is so popular at Christmas! Entire buses come and go all evening bringing people from all over the country to see Longwood’s winter pageant!

I’ve included a few photos so you can get an idea of the beauty of Longwood at Christmas. I apologize for the low quality of the night shots: it’s not easy to take photos in the dark without a tripod, but I think they will give you at least an idea of the beauty. But one thing is missing: the incredible perfumes! Every greenhouse seems to emit its own personal Christmas scent, depending on the flowers grown there: paperwhite narcissus, lilies, orchids, mimosas, etc. A true feast for the nose as well as the eyes!

Imagine, I only left A Longwood Christmas at few hours ago and already I’m trying find out how I can possibly get back again! What a garden! What a show! What a memory!



Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

2 comments on “Longwood Gardens’ Christmas Show: Breathtaking!

  1. You needed a ‘love’ button for this one. Spectacular. The poinsettias are beautiful but I like the trees as well. 🙂

    • Thank you! It was a rush getting it out on time (not easy to write while you’re managing a group… and don’t even get into your hotel until 10 pm!

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