12 Great Holiday Design Ideas From Longwood Gardens

This week I’ll be writing about Longwood Gardens and my annual visit to its spectacular holiday display, A Longwood Christmas. I was thrilled to discover that this year’s show is dedicated to France. Entitled ‘C’est Magnifique!’, it was inspired by founder Pierre S. du Pont and his vision for the property, which was named after his great-great-grandfather, a French economist and writer who immigrated to America at the end of the French Revolution.

In case you’re not familiar with Pennsylvania’s Longwood Gardens, the centerpiece of the gardens is a massive iron and glass atrium that houses over 4 acres of plants. The 1920s-era structure includes three, football field-sized conservatories encircled by walkways.

Longwood’s glass house covers 4 acres

In addition to the conservatories, there are indoor tropical gardens, a Mediterranean garden, rose garden, orchid room and acres of greenhouses filled with seasonal plants. All the decorative displays are meticulously constructed by Longwood staff, students and volunteers using hand-made elements, traditional ornamentation and different forms of horticulture.

Even Longwood’s restrooms, which are accessed through a 4,000 square foot green wall, get in on the act.

In November 2014, they won ‘America’s best restroom.’

Yet, of the many times I’ve visited Longwood Gardens, this was the first year I took a second look at the conservatories’ flower-packed walkways and their unusual combinations of plants. This is where you can get a bird’s-eye-view of the hundreds of unexpected color combinations, mixes of foliage, shapes and textures that make Longwood one of America’s top botanical gardens.

And this year, a closer look revealed that many of these plants can be found in local nurseries! In fact, many of us may already own a few. If you’re looking to spice things up, following are 12 stand-out ideas for unusual combinations of holiday plants that are totally do-able at home.

Australian sword fern, red kalanchoe and licorice plant

Pump things up even more by adding red poinsettias

Mauve arrowhead-vine, white amaryllis and variegated golden pothos

Poinsettia ‘Gold Rush’, orange kalanchoe and sword fern

White poinsettia, yellow kalanchoe and pink florists cyclamen

Dieffenbachia and cream-colored poinsettia

Elephant’s-ear plant, sword fern and poinsettia ‘Ice Punch’

Purple florists cyclamen, variegated spurflower and pink and white striped amaryllis

All white theme: paperwhites and florists cyclamen

Anthurium ‘White Heart’, paperwhites, sword fern and winterberry

(Notice how the red berries are echoed in the spadix of the anthurium)

Pink anthurium and poinsettia ‘Santa Claus Pink’ with sword fern

Red amaryllis and white poinsettia backed by cream-splashed diffenbachia


Hot mix of red, pink, yellow and cream poinsettias and kalanchoes

For more information on Longwood Garden’s holiday display, click here for the official site.

Stay tuned for my next post on Friday. I’ll be talking about Longwood’s breathtaking Christmas trees, all of which are designed to reflect each garden theme.