Poinsettias to topiary, Longwood Gardens is ready


December 20, 1992|By Dorothy Fleetwood | Dorothy Fleetwood,Staff Writer

Now that the presents are wrapped and the tree is trimmed, it's time to enjoy some of the pleasures of the season. And there are still many places to find them.

At Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa., more than 2,000 red, pink and white poinsettias and other Christmas flowers brighten the conservatories. In one area a group of red poinsettias is mirrored in a reflecting pool, and baskets of poinsettias hang from tall tree ferns. In the East Conservatory a topiary Santa in a sleigh pulled by reindeer is suspended over a sea of red cyclamens and white tulips.

The theme of this year's display is "Around the World With St. Nicholas." Six Santa figures show how he is depicted in various countries: a Bavarian Santa with a child on a deer, a blue-robed Russian St. Nicholas, a German Kris Kringle in a fur-trimmed robe, a Swedish St. Lucia bearing a candle halo, a Victorian Father Christmas in the English tradition and a classic American Santa in a roomful of antique toys, teddy bears and a Christmas tree.

Decorated trees also relate to this year's theme. Created by area Federated Garden Club members, the trees include a Swedish tree trimmed with straw, yarn and wooden ornaments, a Victorian English tree bedecked with dried flowers, ruffles, ribbons and lace, and a tropical Mexican tree decorated with flowers, hummingbirds, parrots and natural materials.

Outside, the grounds are aglow with 200,000 lights strung in treetops every day between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., and a colored fountain display is set to holiday music. The Christmas display continues through Jan. 4. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, including Christmas and New Year's days.

Admission is $10 for adults; $2 for ages 6 to 14; free for children 5 and under. The gardens are on U.S. 1, three miles northeast of Kennett Square. For information, call (215) 388-6741.

Brandywine Christmas

Nearby, "A Brandywine Christmas" is presented through Jan. 10 at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pa. An exhibition of delightful children's book illustrations by Philadelphia artist Charles Santore is featured along with a collection of antique dolls, a rare Victorian dollhouse, and the museum's own model railroad, which fills the second-floor gallery.

Another attraction is the display of "critter" ornaments, made by museum volunteers from plant materials gathered from the Brandywine area. The ornaments have been on display at both the White House and Smithsonian Institution. In recognition of the Brandywine Conservancy's 25th anniversary, a Wildlife Tree is decorated with frogs, owls, squirrels, bears and other "critter" ornaments. And in the lobby stands the "Storybook Tree," decorated with favorite children's storybook characters, and the Americana Tree" with ornaments depicting famous Americans.

The museum is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. except Christmas Day. Hours will be extended until 6 p.m. Dec. 26-30. Admission is $5 for adults; $2.50 for seniors and students; free for children under 6. The museum is at U.S. 1 and state Route 100 in Chadds Ford. For information, call (215) 388-2700.

Yule at Wintherthur

Yuletide tours at Winterthur Museum in Winterthur, Del., attract more than 24,000 visitors each year. The tours, which run through Jan. 3, depict holiday celebrations of the 18th and 19th centuries.

A feature of this year's tour is a re-creation of a Christmas tree described by Charles Dickens in a magazine article published in 1850. "It was brilliantly lighted by a multitude of little tapers; and everywhere sparkled and glittered with bright objects," he wrote. Visitors will also see a room set up for New Year's calling in the White House during Jefferson's administration. These open-house events allowed visitors to see the White House and to shake hands with the president. It was a custom that began with George Washington in 1790 and continued through the early 20th century.

Other settings include a Creole reveillon after Christmas Eve Mass in New Orleans; a Pennsylvania German Christmas fair; St. Lucia Day in a Swedish household and Hanukkah in early 19th-century New York.

Tours are available Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 7 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays, Christmas Eve, and Christmas and New Year's days. Admission is $9 for adults; $7.50 for seniors and ages 12 to 18; $4.50 for ages 5 to 11; free for under 5. Reservations are advised. For information, call (302) 888-4600.

Crossing re-enactment

On Christmas Day over 120 re-enactors will gather on the banks of the Delaware River to take part in the annual Washington crossing re-enactment at Washington Crossing Historic Park, Washington Crossing, Pa.

The annual event commemorates the 216th anniversary of the Christmas night in 1776 when General George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River, then went on to defeat the British at Trenton and Princeton to turn the tide of the Revolutionary War.

The re-enactment begins at 1 p.m. with Washington's address to his troops, followed by a march along the river bank past McConkey Ferry Inn (Washington's headquarters) to the crossing site (next to the visitor center).

Those playing Washington and his men will then board four Durham boats, exact replicas of those used in 1776, and row to the New Jersey shore. The re-enactment should conclude by 3:30 p.m. Some of the park's buildings will be open, and a documentary film on the crossing will be shown at the visitor center. Admission is free. Enter the park at state Route 32 just north of state Route 532. For information, call (215) 493-4076.

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