Christmas Fests Turn on the Light and Brilliance

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November 17, 2018
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By Susan McKee

When conservatories and botanical gardens fill with poinsettias and toy trains, the holiday season has begun. Here are some of the places to see the miniature landscapes and colorful plantings this month.

This year’s annual U.S. Botanic Garden holiday exhibit, Season’s Greenings: All Aboard!, is open through January 1, 2019, in the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. Plant-based recreations of iconic train stations from across the United States will be represented in the train room. Explore classic stations like New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, Detroit’s Michigan Central Station, and Maui’s Lahaina Station, plus fantasy Dinosaur and North Pole stations. In the Garden Court, find a dozen model landmarks from our nation’s capital – all made from plant materials, including the U.S. Capitol, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and a new addition this year, a botanical version of Union Station. Thousands of poinsettias will be on display throughout the Conservatory, including a showcase of more than 30 varieties of poinsettias featuring heirlooms, classics, and multiple newly developed varieties.

The annual Gardenland Express Holiday Flower and Train Show is open through January 1, 2019, at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri. Look for G-scale trains representing many eras traveling along 900 feet of track through a miniature holiday landscape made up of festive decorations and thousands of fresh plants, accented by beautiful poinsettias and flowers.

Holiday Train Show is open through January 21, 2019, in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory of the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, New York.  Model trains zip along a half-mile of track through a display of more than 175 New York landmarks, each re-created with bark, leaves, and other natural materials. This year’s exhibition showcases Lower Manhattan —- the birthplace of New York City -— featuring the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and iconic skyscrapers sharing the spotlight among old and new favorites. Making their debut this year are One World Trade Center and the historic Battery Maritime Building along with two vintage ferry boats.

A 20-foot-tall poinsettia tree (plus more than 5000 more plants) fill the floral display hall of Lauritzen Gardens, the botanical center in Omaha, Nebraska, through January 6, 2019. Theme for this year’s show is “The Year of the Bird”, celebrating the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.  Model garden trains will “whir and whistle” around dozens of miniature Omaha-area landmarks, such as the First National Tower, Woodmen Tower, Union Pacific’s headquarters, the Rose Theater, and numerous Old Market buildings.

Pink poinsettias will be the stars at the holiday flower show in the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago, Illinois. Tickled Pink runs through January 6, 2019, showcasing a “sugar plum dream” display of poinsettias backgrounded by deep green trees decorated in rosy illumination.

The Poinsettia Christmas Parade steps off at Main and Augusta streets in Greenville, South Carolina, at 6 p.m. Saturday (December 1, 2018). It’s been a hometown tradition for 75 years.

Poinsettia Festival December 8, 2018, in North Port, Florida, includes both a show and a parade. Themed “Holidays Around the Word,” the parade will travel south on Sumter Boulevard from Sylvania Avenue to City Hall Boulevard, starting at 5 p.m. The route ends at the Poinsettia Festival, which will be on the grounds of the North Port City Center. Hours for the flower fest are 4 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 8:30 p.m., bracketing the parade.

Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure is open at the Eiteljorg Museum, White River State Park, Indianapolis, Indiana. Model trains wind past miniature landscapes of Indianapolis, and the American West, “tooting” at legendary sites, including grand railway lodges, Northwest Coast Native villages, Mount Rushmore, Grand Canyon, Yosemite Falls, Old Faithful, the Las Vegas Strip and Hoover Dam. New this year: a trip on U.S. Highway Route 66.

Check out Susan McKee’s articles and more garden tourism ideas at Road Trips for Gardeners.

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