Christmas at Longwood Gardens by Bonnie and Bill Neely

Kennett, Pennsylvania, is the home of the most wonderful Winter wonderland anyone could ever wish to see: Longwood Gardens. We had been to this beautiful place in summer when gardens are brimming with beautiful summer flowers and enormous fountains are like a fairy tale scene. But from November through early January Longwood is glorious for the holiday season and a place which should be on your Santa list!

You could enjoy days there and never have enough, but if you only have one day to spend here, plan to arrive around 2 P.M. to walk the outdoor garden paths in daylight. It is always cold this time of year, so bundle up! Even the bare trees are beautiful whether you are in sunshine with clear blue skies above and a brisk cold wind, or whether snow bedecks everything around you. There are concerts and Carol sing-alongs throughout the afternoon in the organ room of the Conservatory, and the maestro makes it fun for everyone.

The Terrace Restaurant offers excellent fine dining, but you must have a reservation ahead of time. The Terrace also has a Cafe for which no reservation is necessary and the food is delicious. A large variety of hot and cold selections are offered cafeteria style and the seating is continuous until 8 p.m.
At the Open Air Theater there are lighted fountain shows with water dancing to the lovely seasonal orchestral music. Shows repeat every five minutes after 3 P.M. until the Gardens close.
The most special place in winter is the Conservatory. Anyone who loves flowers will be in awe of the magnificent displays in seasonal colors with Christmas trees decorated in many different ways, all so very beautifully themed using natural ornamentation of live potted flowers or carefully preserved ones. Each year the decor is varied.
In 2011 when we were there, there were thousands of real gingerbread decorations, some hanging on trees of many different kinds and there were some trees made entirely of gingerbread! The smell was so inviting and made me feel I had just stepped into my grandmother’s cozy parlor. Of course, we must have an electric train and lots of candy around the Christmas tree, which was the storybook depiction in a special room of the Conservatory. The train village was entirely edible creations of sugar and dough.
Displays throughout the peaceful walkways inside the Conservatory were spectacular in their beauty. My favorite was the white Oriental Hybrid Lillies paired with red poinsettias. Reds and white were the color scheme and were carried out in numerous floral groupings. How they managed to have millions of white and red flowers in perfect bloom at the same time was mind boggling to me.
As the lights come on at 3:30 the beautiful displays begin to change and as darkness falls about an hour later the wonderland sparkles gently with a half million L.E.D. lights which emit light from diodes, thus cutting the use of electricity by 90%. Bare trees are spotlighted in reds and greens, and fountains change colors. The enitre place is truly a winter wonderland you’ll remember forever. In the lovely gift shop you can fill out all your Christmas list, shopping for everyone or for yourself and take home some everlasting treasures.

Other seasons of the year are just as lovely as Christmas, although the displays are completely different. The fountains dance in great shows day and night. You will be enthralled to see the beauty everywhere.