The Art of Christmas Comes to Life with Botanical Splendor at Longwood Gardens

Longwood Christmas
Image via Longwood Gardens.

When industrialist Pierre S. du Pont purchased a small farm near Kennett Square in 1906 to save a collection of historic trees from being sold for lumber, who would’ve imagined that Longwood Gardens would become one of the world’s greatest horticultural displays?

The much-anticipated time of year has arrived when Longwood’s towering trees glimmer with botanical ornaments, more than a half-million dazzling lights artistically accent the landscape, strolling carolers bring holiday cheer, and crackling firepits add warmth to cozy winter evenings.

As such, tickets are now available for A Longwood Christmas and all the festive fun it will bring from Nov. 18 through Jan. 8.

This year’s theme for the popular holiday display, Botanical Splendor, elevates plants and natural elements into artisan holiday décor that transforms Longwood’s grand Conservatory and outdoor gardens into a holiday wonderland. Natural materials are whimsically woven throughout displays — fresh and preserved florals paint landscape canvases, dried branches and grasses become bursting stars, and grapevines transcend typical wreath configurations to form elegant hanging orbs.

A highlight of the holiday display is The Music Room, which this year is transformed into a lavish floral shop. The shop features extravagant floral arrangements created by instructors from Longwood’s floral design program, and intricate botanical drawings by students of Longwood’s botanical drawing classes. Not to be missed are couture gown-like sculptures fashioned from preserved, dried, and faux floral materials designed and handcrafted by students from Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design.

Living works of art can be found throughout Longwood’s East Conservatory, where a succulent Christmas tree composed of hundreds of hardy hens-and-chicks (Sempervivum) greets guests. Suspended gold globes embellished with preserved botanicals beckon guests farther inside where they discover a botanical landscape in the Exhibition Hall featuring living trees made of colorful bromeliads and bold tropical plants, and a masterfully dressed 20-foot-tall tree adorned in red, gold, champagne, and silver ornaments.

In the Acacia Passage, grapevine orbs of creamy white Phalaenopsis orchids, textural Tillandsia, and Spanish-moss float overhead. The newly restored Orchid House celebrates the season with a series of colorful orchid orbs hanging overhead. Additional evergreen artistry is highlighted in the Silver Garden where a tree adorned with more than 100 handmade ornaments crafted from pressed and dried flowers from Longwood’s orchid collection.

In the Ballroom, the 18-foot Fraser fir is a vision of gold, pearl, silver, champagne, and preserved florals. Nine 12-foot Children’s Christmas Trees are lovingly dressed in garden-inspired ornaments crafted by local schools and organizations.

A botanically inspired art installation in the Rose Arbor radiates an enchanting lighting pattern throughout the space. Stroll down the Flower Garden Drive under a shower of cascading lights to the ever-popular Wildlife Tree draped in whimsically carved gourd lights and handcrafted ornaments that offer grains and seeds to feed nature’s furry friends.

For the first time ever, the Pear-Shaped Basin near the Chimes Tower is home to a 30-foot-tall floating tree, lit in stunningly icy elements. After gazing upon the scene, warm up at the fire pit at Pumphouse Plaza. In the Main Fountain Garden, a new 150-foot-long light tunnel beckons, while in the Open Air Theatre, fountains dance to holiday classics during five-minute shows that run throughout the day and evening.

Young and old will delight in the holiday Garden Railway as it travels past miniature Longwood landmarks decorated for the holiday season. Nearby, the Beer Garden and Café offer festive food options for the family.

Purchase tickets for A Longwood Christmas at Longwood Gardens.

It’s the Christmas season at Longwood Gardens.

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