Nature perfected, indoors and out, at Longwood
● By J. Chambless
Thousands of outdoor lights make the grounds come alive at Longwood Gardens.
It’s shaping up to be “A Longwood Christmas” to
remember. On view from Nov. 22 to Jan. 5, the holiday display is inspired by
the contours of traditional holiday favorites, such as poinsettias, pinecones
and snowflakes, as well as shapes unique to Longwood.
Inside Longwood’s four-acre Conservatory, the Exhibition Hall holds a 400-foot-long ribbon entwined with giant ornaments, nestled among trees, culminating in a towering Christmas tree decorated in red, gold and silver ornaments.
The Music Room is transformed into a confectionary shop decorated for the holidays, featuring two 18-foot Fraser firs dripping in pastel-colored Christmas candy. In a collaboration with America’s oldest candy store, Shane’s Confectionary in Philadelphia, the Music Room showcases vintage candy molds and clear toy candies, a Pennsylvania German Christmas tradition. The display counter is filled with horticulturally themed chocolates, lollipops and cookies, while apothecary jars are filled with artistic lollipops and other sweet favorites.
The East Conservatory holds the largest indoor tree in the display, a 24-foot white fir with a pinecone motif that’s flanked by cut white pine trees and fountain jets. In the Rose House is a living tree decked out in more than 150 pink poinsettias as handcrafted chandeliers glow from above.
In the Ballroom, an 18-foot Fraser fir is covered in crystal ornaments fashioned in shapes reminiscent of the crystals found in the 90-year-old chandeliers and sconces in the room.
Thousands of poinsettias, amaryllis, fragrant paperwhites, and other floral finery fill the Conservatory. Living wreaths fashioned from everything from orchids to succulents, and trees fashioned from a variety of plant materials, highlight the skills of Longwood’s many horticulturists.
Outside, more than 500,000 lights are strung on 150 trees. New displays include dancing lights that simulate the fountain jets in the Main Fountain Garden. The towering trees bordering the Large Lake are the backdrop for a repeating illuminated light show set to holiday music.
In the Meadow Garden, visitors stroll through a 140-foot tunnel of light in the winter landscape, and discover a grove of glowing architectural orbs that pulse and change to the rhythm of holiday favorites.
The Wildlife Tree is swathed in skeins of yarn, while hundreds of handmade ornaments serve as a holiday buffet for wildlife. The 25-foot Gardener’s Tree showcases some of nature’s most unique shapes – ornamental gourds.
In the Open Air Theatre, fountains dance day and night to holiday classics. And Longwood’s outdoor train display will be operating daily. Three fire pits invite guests to warm up by the fire on chilly evenings.
Throughout the season, Longwood’s Ballroom will be the site of free and ticketed holiday-inspired performances, as well as daily carol sing-alongs performed on Longwood’s pipe organ. The Strolling Olde Towne Carolers add to the holiday charm on select evenings, while Longwood’s historic Chimes Tower plays holiday music every half-hour. For a complete listing of performances, visit longwoodgardens.org.
Admission to the Christmas display is by timed admission ticket, purchased in advance for a specific date and time. Members require free, timed reservations every day if arriving after 2 p.m. Gardens Premium Members do not require reservations. Tickets and reservations are available at www.longwoodgardens.org.