Thursday, July 25, 2013 / 12:00 AM
When the Missouri's humid summer heat subsides and the summer greenery becomes barren and gray, one of St. Louis’ most renowned shrub hubs will be anything but bleak. This year, the Missouri Botanical Garden will become a labyrinth of glittering holiday lights just in time for caroling, cocoa and Bing Crosby tunes.
On a hot July day last week, preparations for the garden’s first ever Garden Glow holiday light exhibit began. In about four months, the 79-acre estate will don hundreds of thousands of lights, illuminating the geodesic dome of the Climatron and transforming the Kaeser Memorial Maze into an enchanted channel leading to the charming gazebo inside.
“This is a real change in how we operate,” says Lynn Kerkemeyer, senior manager of exhibits and events at the Missouri Botanical Garden. “We’re usually only open in the daytime, so it’s a culture change for the institution.”
Last summer, the garden hosted a three-month Lantern Festival to commemorate its 25-year involvement with the Flora of China project. After the sun descended each night of the festival, dragons, Chinese temples and Buddhas came to life. More than two dozen Chinese lanterns lit up the night sky.
After seeing the awe on visitors’ faces as they admired the exhibit, the decision was made to fulfill a longtime public demand for a holiday light display. Plans for Garden Glow initiated last December, and after about six months of scoping out other botanical gardens’ holiday lights, the blueprint has been finalized.
What does it include? Besides the fully illuminated Climatron, seas of iridescent wands, subtle candlelight displays and fire pits for s’more making.
“We wanted to use a global color pallette that would appeal to holiday celebrations around the world, not just limit it to the Christmas colors that we’re used to seeing,” Kerkemeyer says.
The National Historic Landmark is known for displaying flora from all over the world, including 14 acres of Japanese horticulture alone, and also for being a global center for botanical research. Thus, its inaugural holiday celebration will honor an array of cultural traditions.
Likely before the last leaf falls, snow will be blowing in south St. Louis at the Missouri Botanical Garden. There will be music, marshmallow roasting and entertainment for both children and their folks.
The Garden Glow debuts November 23, and will be open Wednesday through Sunday evenings until January 4, with the exception of Christmas Eve, Christmas day and New Years Eve. Admission into the garden depends on age, membership and date. To find more information about Garden Glow 2013, visit http://www.mobot.org.
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