Happy Holidays from the Longwood Graduate Program!
Each year, A Longwood Christmas invites guests to experience a garden transformation like no other. Featuring intricate design, holiday cheer, and horticultural excellence, this year’s theme, The Sounds of the Season, resonates throughout the indoor and outdoor gardens during this musically-inspired display.
As Longwood’s most popular season, thousands flock to the conservatory to take shelter from the cold and marvel at the elaborate sights. If you’ve ever found yourself stopped in your tracks when greeted with an indoor display and wondered, “How on earth did they do that?”, you’re not alone! Thanks to the LGP’s Mentorship Program, which pairs each Fellow with a Longwood staff member, I consulted Jim Sutton, Display Designer and my mentor, on this very question. The short answer: it takes a village, specifically a Longwood village.
As a mentor, Jim understands the importance of highlighting lessons in project management through experiential learning opportunities at Longwood. When it comes to preparing for and installing A Longwood Christmas, the lesson is clear: communication and teamwork. This is exemplified in one of this year’s grandest features, a two-story Christmas tree displayed on the Fern Floor in the Exhibition Hall. Supporting over 1,000 potted poinsettias, orchids, ivies, and ferns, if you look closely you will find it’s not a tree at all! In fact, it is a modular structure designed, constructed, and maintained by numerous teams of Longwood staff.
While Jim and Display Design intern, Greg Schival, produced the concept and drawings for the tree, Longwood’s carpenters and metal shop brought the structure to life, building each section like a puzzle piece able to lock in and come apart. Meticulously crafted with safety in mind, the tree’s base is comprised of wood and rests on the floor. Its top, however, is a separate metal piece suspended from the ceiling and secured through a base within its counterpart. Outfitted with lights and irrigation, Koa Kanamee, Senior Gardener, made sure plants were added in a top-down fashion to preserve a finished look throughout the installation process.
Longwood’s strong culture of teamwork has been bolstered in recent years with another Mentorship Program, one specifically designed to support the Horticulture staff in the Christmas season. Voices and talents from throughout the gardens form a network of committees, collaborating among themselves and with one another, to create the wonder that is A Longwood Christmas without losing site of the nuances that make for an enchanting guest experience.