How Public Gardens get Gorgeous for the Holidays



Most people assume that gardens can’t look good in the winter – at least where there IS winter.  But Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Northern Virginia is here to disprove that notion, with photos by their volunteer “resident photographer,” Tom Stovall.  First, some shots of their Winter Walk of Lights, which is festive but not religious, thus welcoming to all.  I love that public gardens are creating these fabulous winter events.

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Light shows are great for evenings, but how do you make a public garden gorgeous on winter days?


It helps to have a stunning setting. Who says bare trees have to look ugly?


Nice structures and water help.


Nice structures over water with big golden conifers, even better.


Animals are still around in winter gardens, of course, some of them pretty impressive.


But let’s face it.  Winter gardens look best with snow on them, even just a dusting of snow.

If I needed to know how the garden might look if I visited when it’s snowing, the shot above would be instructive.   It’s lovely, so much lovelier than the view from my living room window, but I’d still probably stay home, indoors.


So I’d just as soon see the shot above with a little color added, as Tom has done.  This one I’m turning into my computer wallpaper.


But best of all for a Christmas Eve post is this last photo that combines holiday decorations with snow and probably some Photoshop, too.  A winner!

And on that note, Happy Holidays from GardenRant!


  1. And Merry Christmas to The Garden Rant crew, who give us all great pearls of wisdom and gorgeous pictures on a favorite subject, gardening, all yr long!

  2. Beautiful story in pictures and words…To see the beauty in Mother Earth’s quiet system reminds us that Winter’s parcimony is a source of wealth to the eyes…and teaches us how to be mindful…

  3. Thanks for doing such a beautiful job with these photographs, Susan, and with your story. I could not have said it better! I’m finding many beautiful subjects each time I go out to visit the Gardens.

  4. Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond VA does a beautiful job at the holiday season too. Beautiful light display throughout the garden as you walk around. The children’s garden and tree house are amazing. Inside, one tree and room is decorated with all natural items and dried flowers. Check it out!

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