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Posted on Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 12:29 p.m.

Garden Faerie: Gardens light up for the holidays

By Monica Milla


Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids hosts Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World, which includes Christmas trees decorated in the styles of many countries.

Photo by William J. Hebert

Botanical gardens are just as much fun to visit around the holidays as they are during the regular growing season. Many area gardens offer indoor and outdoor holiday lights, displays and events. Whether on our own doorstep here in Ann Arbor at Matthaei Botanical Gardens, or a little farther afoot at Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, there's a lot to see and do.

Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor hosts A Christmas Tree Carol: The Time Traveler's Guide in the conservatory from Nov. 24 to Jan. 6. The display takes a cultural look at holiday trees and features eight trees decorated in the traditions of the past (from early Victorian times), the styles of the present and visions of what might become popular in the future. You can also discover tips for creating and decorating your own tree and take home eco-friendly holiday decorating ideas.

The Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Detroit's Belle Isle hosts its annual Stroll Through the Conservatory on Dec. 17. Enjoy music, cider, donuts and holiday decorations and lights in the conservatory. Bonus: This event is free!


The grounds at Hidden Lake Gardens shine during the Evening of Lights.

Photo by Gregorio Perez, copyright 2010

Hidden Lake Gardens in Tipton hosts An Evening of Lights on Dec. 3 where visitors can enjoy a winter walk through the grounds which are illuminated by more than 2,000 candle luminaries. The grounds are also illuminated for the Holiday Festival on Dec. 4, and musical groups perform holiday favorites inside the conservatory. Santa will be on hand early at the visitor center.

The Toledo Botanical Garden hosts Heralding the Holidays Dec. 3-5. This event features free horse-drawn wagon rides on Friday night, plus festive entertainment, children's activities and refreshments on all three nights. Also, arts, crafts and other special items are on sale. Through the whole month of December, the garden gates will be open until 9 p.m. for visitors to enjoy the holiday lights.


Don't forget the sculptures outside at Meijer Gardens.

Monica Milla | Contributor

Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids hosts an indoor/outdoor Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World display from Nov. 23 to Jan. 9. The display has 300,000 lights, strolling carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides, and more than 40 trees decorated in styles from around the world. And don't forget to go into the cafe and look up — you don't want to miss the gorgeous Chihuly glass artwork on the ceiling!

Dow Gardens in Midland hosts an annual Christmas walk, taking place this year Dec. 9-11. In addition to the candle-lit walk, choirs perform. New this year is a one-day-only Christmas tour on golf carts. There are also walks without musical accompaniment ("silent nights") on Dec. 17-18.

Monica Milla, the Garden Faerie, is a master gardener volunteer, garden speaker, garden coach and author of "Fun with Winter Seed Sowing."


Monica Milla

Sat, Dec 4, 2010 : 9:34 a.m.

MBT, Thank you for raising the timely issue of wreath awareness. It is a true scourge for large and small creatures alike. Be sure to dispose of wreaths properly to save the statues!


Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 7:22 p.m.

Cool, wish I could take a road trip and see these in person. That last picture serves as a reminder that when we throw away our holiday wreathes, bears get caught in them. People, remember to cut them up before throwing them in the trash!!!!!