I haven’t been to visit Longwood Gardens at Christmas since my parents were living , and spry, and in West Chester; that’s about 20 years, at least. However, I loved the winter lights on the outside trees, as well as the breathtaking decorations in the conservatories.
I grew up about five miles from this wonderful place, and visited there often. In those days, there was no admission charge. Now it costs a pretty penny to get in, but it pays for the upkeep and all the gardeners and horticulturalists, so it goes.
I wrote a poem about it a few years ago, though the poem does not even begin to touch the beauty of the place at every season:
Hymn to Longwood Gardens
How is it that I was born five miles from you,
born to walk your three hundred acres for twelve years?
Now, thirty years later,
In the satiny iced lawns of February,
I dream of your sumptuous beds
luminous in the summer twilight,
your solitary fountain
stumbled upon in the deep shade,
of thrush revealing her speckled breast in the mulch
behind the Italian water gardens.
I dream of my first love
plucking my hand into his,
a young, thin, fine, freckled hand,
the first holding of hands
as we entered the garden
for a fountain display
on a starlit July evening.
In those days, you were free.
Now, you have flourished,
and your entrance fee is costly.