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It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

By Kari Getchonis, on November 24, 2009

In less than one week, Longwood's tireless staff removes the entire chrysanthemum display in a complete make-over of the Gardens. We have three days each year (the three days before Thanksgiving) to transform the Gardens into a Longwood Gardens Christmas. Our 2009 theme of pollination has carried over into our Christmas preparations, with many of the popular trees, wreaths and decorations featuring flowers, fruits and insects. 

Butterflies Butterflies.

I can't wait to see the 28-foot tree in the East Conservatory covered with hundreds of animatronic blue butterflies complementing the blue and silver themed display in that garden. Familiar favorites like paperwhite narcissus and artemisia will be displayed alongside blue flowered Salvia glechomifolia and Plectranthus thyrsoideus.  These plants are natives of Mexico and Central Africa, respectively, and will be in full bloom throughout the winter season! On the Exhibition Hall floor you will be amazed at the floral "carpet" that our gardeners and designers have been working on busily. Hundreds of poinsettias, begonias and ivy create a tapestry of color almost 85- feet long! Our inspiration for this masterpiece is the floral carpet created each year in Brussels, Belgium.

Flower Carpet in Brussels, Belgium Flower Carpet in Brussels, Belgium.

Theirs is a short-lived palette of begonia flowers--while ours will last the duration of the display, from November  26-January 10.  The reflective pool of water on the floor surrounding the carpet will lead your eye to the decorated floral tree on the Exhibition Hall stage.  At Longwood, not only do we hang ornaments on our trees, we also install living plants on an elaborate framework complete with irrigation!


Kids of all ages should be on the lookout for the garden railway running outside the Lower Reception Suite overlooking the Main Fountain Garden.  There will be a forest of 28 multicolored Christmas trees lit with energy-saving LED lights. The trains will dart in and out of this "forest" creating a festive atmosphere.  This year Longwood Gardens in projecting that 97% of our 500,000 outdoor displays of Christmas lights will be LED.  What an amazing green initiative were accomplishing!

Outdoor trains Outdoor trains.

As you enter the Reception Suite from the outdoor train display you might see these wreaths that feature the fruits of pollination.  In between maintaining the gardens,  many of Longwood's talented staff are floral artists creating dazzling displays out of traditional and unusual material.  These pieces are constructed of salal leaves and mood moss.  It takes about  three hours per wreath, with a total of four people working on them at one stage or another!  Thank goodness for all of Longwood's dedicated volunteers! Speaking of volunteers, not everyone has to be experienced in horticulture or floral design to participate in the creation of a Longwood Gardens Christmas.  The watercolor you see here was created by one of our volunteers! 

Lower reception Lower reception.

Mediterranean Garden Mediterranean Garden.

The image is the Mediterranean Garden, which will be transformed into an outdoor California  patio garden this Christmas.  Flowering Aloe, poinsettia and cyclamen are all popular outdoor plants during the mild winters of California.  This display will make you long to be outside on a cool California evening, with a glass of wine in hand. Look closely at the French doors, which will offer a peek  "inside the home" to a Christmas tree! The planning process for displays such as this span an entire year, if not more! We go through countless discussions and revisions before the final product reaches the Gardens. We're currently refining the plans for 2010... our year of Fragrance... even though we haven't finished installing 2009 yet! This is just a quick glimpse of some of the things we are up to in preparation for a Longwood Gardens Christmas.  We hope to see you at one of our ice skating performances, or in the Ballroom to sing alongside the Longwood Organ during our dazzling Christmas display, which begins Thanksgiving Day.

Happy Holidays!