Thursday, December 7, 2017

A Longwood Christmas 2017

I believe we've started a new holiday tradition. For the second year running H.H. and I went to Longwood Gardens to experience their ultimate winter wonderland. I wrote about last year's visit HERE. This year's excursion was even more special because we met my son and his family there. How wonderful for this avid gardener: beautiful gardens plus children and grandchildren that I don't see very often because they live in Arizona. While waiting for the rest of the family to arrive, H.H. and I toured the museum with my son. It is housed in the du Pont house. My son was particularly interested to learn that Pierre S. du Pont bought the Longwood property because he was alarmed that some trees were to be cut down. He designed the 600-foot-long Flower Garden Walk first and began doing the work himself. Yes, he was a gardener (with a degree in engineering from MIT!) His original garden designs are exhibited in the house. Fascinating stuff. I had toured before, but missed a model of a dining room on display in a corner cabinet.

The doll's house size room decorated for Christmas
The du Pont house that contains the museum

When the rest of the family arrived and had examined the model railway set up in the grounds, we headed for the Conservatory. It was rather crowded, as we expected, being the day after Thanksgiving and only the second day of the event. It was difficult to take pictures without people in them. Also, I forgot my camera in the excitement of starting the two-hour drive to see my kinfolk, so had to rely on my phone. Fortunately, Jonathan was with us and he took better pictures with his. (Jon is my grandson who lives closer to us -- I write about him often as he is my big helper in the garden.)  The photos in this posting are a mixture of mine and Jon's. For really stunning captures, with NO people, you must visit Frank's blog at Sorta Like Suburbia.  Frank visited Longwood on a quiet Sunday afternoon with a real camera; his posting puts mine to shame.

Entrance to the Conservatory

The theme in the Conservatory this year is Classic French Design. There are elegant arrangements at every turn. I was disappointed not to go into the Music Room (too crowded) that replicates Versailles' Hall of Mirrors. I missed the courtyard scene that Frank shows on his blog post. There are many other highlights however.

This year's theme is French inspired.

 The most impressive is the floor of the Exhibition Hall. It shows a parterre garden depicted with cranberries and apples. I read that the Longwood carpenters spent nearly five hundred hours perfecting the fruit containment system. They used fruit from local farms. For more information go to Parterre Garden construction.

The Parterre Garden -- C'est Magnifique

The cranberry and apple theme is repeated in one of the living wreaths shown at the beginning of this posting. Jonathon has a new favorite flower -- he loved all the orchids. There is an orchid tree, the regular orchid display and even hanging baskets filled with orchids. Jon was very disappointed when I told him I have no luck growing orchids -- my house doesn't have the required conditions and I don't have the required skill.

Some of Longwood's orchids

Every year they display a Christmas tree made of succulents. This time they have a small succulent tree as well as the large one. I adored both.

Small succulent tree on left. Close-up of large one on right.

I have forgotten the 2016 theme, but poinsettias were very prominent everywhere. The poinsettia is one of the few traditional Christmas plants that is native to the Americas. This year features fewer of them, probably because they don't fit the French theme.  My favorite was a pretty peach colored one.

Unusual peachy colored poinsettia

The boys (young and old) were hungry after the long Conservatory tour, so we spent time in the café, eating and catching up on family news. By the time we went back outside it was dark. We strolled around the grounds enjoying the lights. At the Italian Garden, the lighted trees seemed to float on the water.

Top right: Floating trees in the Italian Garden's lake.

We said our goodbyes. To say it was a beautiful day is an understatement. Jon came back to our house to spend the weekend getting the tree, decorating it and the rest of the house, and baking the plum pudding. (I told you he's my big helper.)  We don't put lights outside of the house, I just put candle lights in my windows. I seem to do everything the same each year. I had examined the mantles in the du Pont house for ideas, yet decorated mine exactly as I always do.  There's lots of meaning and remembering in all my ornaments, however.  For example, the wooden cardinal bird on the mantle was carved and painted by H.H's cousin's daughter and fiancĂ© and given as a 'favor' at their wedding. Every year I put it out and think of that lovely celebration on Cape Cod. My friend Janet's children were visiting her for Thanksgiving and asked if they could decorate her house for Christmas. She gave them free range and they placed all her Christmas stuff in totally different spots than normal. Janet loves it. Maybe, that's what I should do one year.

Top: note the egg ornament made by my daughter when she was little. Bottom: mantle arrangement with cardinal.

What are your holiday traditions dear friends?

Have a blessed Christmas!
Pamela x

My 'Gardening Angel' ornament is a new gift from H.H.

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