With lights, Longwood Gardens dazzles holiday visitors

Fostering holiday spirit, gardeners and staff members dedicate hours to create holiday displays. A Longwood Gardens Christmas will be on view from November 19 through January 9.


Amanda Yang

“Deck the halls”…Unbagging wreaths, design intern Gabrielle Rowe prepares holiday displays at Longwood Gardens. The festive garden will be on display now until January 9.

Through unique display themes and months of dedicated preparation and setup, Longwood Gardens has created a special holiday tradition for their visitors, filled with festive seasonal plants and lights.
According to the Longwood Gardens website, the garden’s journey began in 1906 when Pierre S. du Pont purchased a farm in Kennett Square, Pa. to protect a collection of historic trees from being sold.
Today, Longwood Gardens is “one of the world’s great horticultural displays,” encompassing 1,100 acres of “dazzling” gardens, meadows and fountains.
When the holiday season comes around, the garden transforms into a festival of colorful lights and unique Christmas decorations. The overarching themes of the displays change every holiday season.
This upcoming holiday season at Longwood is inspired by the beautiful contrast of fire and ice through its combinations of firepits to gather around and frosted evergreens.
“Opposites attract this holiday season making for an unforgettable holiday experience,” Longwood Gardens Marketing and Communications Specialist Abbey Gau said.
Longwood Garden member Maggie Liu is a regular visitor, exploring what the garden has to offer about every other week.
During the holiday season, Liu looks forward to seeing the giant Christmas trees along with the creative themes of the ornaments. “I think it was either last year or a few years ago when the ornaments [were] book pages,” Liu said. “I thought that was really clever.”
According to Gau, the ornaments that Liu admires are the product of careful preparation.
The theme, design and planning process begins more than a year in advance.
“More than 200 dedicated and creative staff, students and volunteers led by 23 different project leaders’ work all year planning, preparing and handcrafting unique ornaments,” Gau said.
Additionally, arborists spend nearly 3,000 hours installing almost 50 miles of lights on more than 100 trees. Sophomore Elizabeth Kline looks forward to walking through the lights each year. “There’s a whole bunch of lights coming off of these trees, and it’s really magical,” Kline said.
Another aspect that makes Longwood Gardens so beloved is the fact that they’re constantly changing their displays. “I’ve lived here for probably 14 years. I don’t think I’ve ever gone before and not been pleasantly surprised by something they have there, or enjoy what they have to offer,” Liu said.
A main attraction of the garden is the indoor conservatory. Every year, curtains of lights and flowers help to bring holiday cheer.
Science teacher Kimberly Wilson enjoys her yearly visits to the Fruit House, an exhibit in the conservatory, which invites visitors to experience the joy of Christmas through the eyes of children. The exhibition displays many trees, each dedicated to one elementary school, decorated with handmade ornaments from the students.
This idea has inspired Wilson to consider creating a Fruit House at the high school.
“I always thought it would be cool to have the elementary schools make their own ornaments out of reusable [materials] and then bring it in,” Wilson said, “and we would judge [the ornaments,] and someone would win.”
Since this “world renowned garden” is only a short drive away, Wilson encourages everyone to go at least once in their lives to experience the beauty there. “We are so fortunate to live here, so close to it,” Wilson said. “You really should take advantage of it.”