A Longwood Christmas

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Night display at Longwood Gardens.

I’m very lucky in so many ways. One of them is that I get to go to Longwood Gardens almost every year and sometimes twice a year. I’ve just come back from such a visit and wanted to share some photos of the Christmas display with my readers.

Longwood Gardens is, quite simply, my favorite garden in the world. As a garden tour leader, I’ve been able to see hundreds of gardens all o n all six inhabited continents and many islands, and Longwood, with its amazing variety of gardens, incredible displays of plants and impeccable care, simply beats them all. The gardens are located in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, only 15 minutes or so from Wilmington, Delaware. That’s a long, long day’s drive from where I live, but at least I don’t need to take a plane. Besides, I travel with a busload of fellow gardeners, so it’s a group activity, with plenty of time to talk and share gardening tales.

Longwood Christmas 2019

Here are some of the highlights from the 2019 Christmas show, entitled A Longwood Christmas.

More than 500,000 lights grace 150 trees throughout the outdoor gardens.
The first thing you see as you head into the gardens is the Hanging Orbs Light Display.
The Canopy Cathedral Treehouse looks like something out of a fairy tale. 
There are illuminations everywhere you look.

Here and there are fire pits where you can warm yourself up … and even hot chocolate with a bit of added Bailey’s Cream if you wish.

Of course, there’s plenty to see indoors also.

A beautiful display awaits you as you enter the East Conservatory.
Everyone’s favorite: the Exhibition Hall display is adorned with a larger-than-life, handcrafted ribbon 400 feet (122 m) long.
A wreath of living orchids in the Orchid House.
Poinsettias of all sizes in the Main Conservatory.
My group looking down from the Canopy Cathedral Treehouse.
A short video of the outdoor displays prepared by Longwood Gardens.

Visiting Longwood

There’s much more than this to see … and to hear. Holiday organ concerts in the greenhouse, fountain displays to Christmas music in the Open Air Theatre, a 140-ft (43-meter) tunnel of light, a model train, roving Christmas carolers and plenty more. I suggest arriving in the afternoon for a first quick tour of the outdoor gardens and to visit the vast greenhouses and all its wonderful plants in daylight, then having dinner at The Café. After, take all the time you want to visit the illuminated outdoor gardens after dark.

A Longwood Christmas opened on November 22, 2019, and runs until January 5, 2020. A similar show takes place annually if you can’t make 2019. Tickets and reservations are available now at longwoodgardens.org

Photos from Longwood Gardens (Davis Harold Hank and Carol DiGuiseppi), Larry Hodgson and Mario Croteau

Longwood Gardens’ Christmas Show: Breathtaking!

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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!