The Holiday LIGHTS Experience - Cheekwood
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Cheekwood meets the North Pole in the most anticipated event of the season. In its fourth year, Nashville’s favorite holiday tradition returns with ONE MILLION LIGHTS illuminating our gardens for the prettiest winter stroll of the season. This year we introduced timed tickets to ensure our guests have the best experience possible. Last year’s Late Night Lights continues again this year, with discounted tickets available after 8:30 pm. Additionally, we introduced Military Mondays which offers half priced admission on Monday nights for military men and women as well as their immediate families for the remainder of the season.HolidayLIGHTSOur resident reindeer, Jolly and Nick, are joining us for their fourth year at Cheekwood. Guests can enjoy  festive holiday drinks and roast marshmallows by the fire in one of our s’mores pits. One of our new features this year is the Star Field located on the mansion lawn. These dancing lights entertain guests of all ages as they move to the tune of holiday classics.reindeerClassic holiday decorations are displayed throughout the mansion, including our Poinsettia tree featuring over 500 poinsettias. The Museum of Art has unique exhibits on display for the remainder of the year, including Gabriel Dawe’s Fields of Light and Continuity of Context: Five Artists in Dialogue with Cheekwood’s Collection. A special holiday exhibit, Toys and Traditions: A 1930s Christmas, highlights key decorations, vintage advertisements and toys from the 1930s.poinsettia treeOur newly renovated Frist Learning Center is the perfect spot to do your holiday shopping. The new Garden Gift Shop and Café 29 will be open each night during Holiday LIGHTS. Carolers will be singing holiday favorites, and each night in December leading up to Christmas Santa will be paying a visit to Cheekwood until 8 pm. santa
Reflecting Pool
Pontederia cordata / Pickerel Weed

Pickerel weed is native to eastern North America and the Caribbean. It has soft blue blooms, resembling hyacinth, punctuated with yellow spots on each petal. A freshwater-aquatic plant, it will thrive in your rain garden or backyard pond, and, much like horsetail plant (Equisetum), it can spread rapidly. With its dense root system, it does an amazing job of controlling erosion by keeping sediment it place. Grow in containers, either out of water or in, if spread is a concern.

The leaves of Pontederiaare shaped like arrowheads and, when young, can be used in salads. Its seeds are also edible, and tastes best when roasted, though waterfowl will eat them raw. Butterflies are big fans of this perennial; dragonflies and damselflies commonly lay their eggs on plant stems near the water’s surface. Fish, reptiles, and other water creatures seek shelter in the clumps of these plants. It is often seen in the same habitats as the pickerel fish, hence the common name.Robinson Family Water Garden
Hydrangea paniculata ‘Tardiva’ / Panicle Hydrangea

One of the most winter hardy of all hydrangeas, ‘Tardiva’ is very similar to ‘Floribunda’, although the sepals surrounding the base of the blooms are mostly in sets of four and not five. The panicles of showy white flowers become tinged with rose and lavender coloration as they age. The leaves of panicle hydrangeas are handsomely ovate and dark green. There is excellent cut and dried flower potential with this shrub which will grow up to 10 feet tall if conditions are right. Use in a mass hedge or back border for the grandest effect. If larger flowers are desired, prune shrub to 5-10 primary shoots in late winter or early spring. H. paniculatais native to China and Japan.Wills Perennial Garden
Cortaderia selloana‘Pumila’ (Ivory Feathers®) / Pampas Grass

A dwarf form of pampas grass with creamy white flowers, the plumes of ‘Pumila’ reach about 3-4’ above the evergreen foliage. The panicles of flowers first appear in August and they remain not only intact, but very attractive throughout much of the winter. This dwarf form is perfect for small spaces and, of all available cultivars, this is one of the most floriferous. This tough ornamental grass is easy to grow and maintain.Petite Swan Lawn
Picea abies‘Pumila Nigra’ / Dwarf Norway Spruce

This dwarf Norway Spruce is of unknown origin, but it can be traced back to the late 1800’s when it was first documented in large collections and arboretums. The needles are darker than those of the species, hence the name ‘Pumila Nigra’. Ruby-red colored female flowers can be seen spreading on the crowns of the tree in May. Moderately moist, well-drained soil is the best condition for a happy Picea. They do prefer colder climates (hardiness zone of 2-7) and full sun is much appreciated. Though a small amount of shade is tolerated, it will become very thin and raggedy in too much shade.

This cultivar is the perfect addition to rock gardens, fairy-themed gardens, and front borders. It will grow to an average of 3-4 feet wide and high and is deer resistant.Turner Season’s Garden: Fall section
Acer palmatum ‘Willow Leaf’/ Japanese Maple

With a similar branching habit to that of flowering dogwood, Japanese maples can present a similar attractively layered architecture. Grown as either a tree or shrub according to personal preference, more of its ornamental attributes can be seen when grown as a shrub. A very versatile plant, Acer palmatumcan be used as a shrub border, container element, specimen planting, and bonsai. With bright orange-red leaves that turn deep purple-red in summer, ‘Willow Leaf’ is perfectly placed among the beautyberries in the Fall section of Turner Seasons Garden. The upright, rounded, small tree can grow up to 8′ tall with semi-pendulous branches.Howe Garden
Ilex verticillata ‘Golden Verboom’/ Winterberry

When many of us think fall color, it’s usually that of foliage that first comes to mind. Depending on the time of flower, fruit of many plants appear in the fall, some in the form of berries or drupes, as with the common winterberry, Ilex verticillata.‘Golden Vebroom’ was created for the cut branch industry, originates from Verboom Nursery in Holland, and features yellow fruit that can persist until December or January, depending on the whether it is on the local (and migratory) birds’ radar.

Ilex verticillata 
withstands wet soils very well. With a deep dark green foliage color that can have a purple tinge in fall, the best effect of this shrub is seen when planted as a mass among red fruit varieties of the same. Full sun to part shade is the recommended sun exposure, though it well set more fruit when given more sun. It appreciates acidic soil and it is open to a variety of soil tilths. It is crucial to plant at least 2 winterberries for pollination to take effect.Carell Dogwood Garden
Amsonia hubrichtii/ Arkansas Amsonia

Located in the Carell Dogwood Garden on the walk over toward the Burr, Arkansas Amsonia is a defining fall foliage flavor known well here at Cheekwood. Golden yellow shades with orange undertones can be appreciated from up close but also from a distance. It tends to flop over by this time of year, however, a good remedy for this is to cut the plant back by half after it’s finished blooming in April or May. Its flowers are subtle, light blue, almost white in warmer climates, but not a cause for too much excitement. A. hubrichtiioffers a wonderful textural contribution to garden beds and is especially beneficial when used along with broadleaf perennials and trees to break up monotony in shape.

Photo courtesy of John Ruter, University of Georgia, 
Burr Terrace Garden
Chrysanthemum x rubellum ‘Clara Curtis’/ Perennial Mum

As many of us are, ‘Clara Curtis’ is also known as ‘Country Girl’. This is a cultivar that has been on the market for many decades now, due to its reliable nature. With single, pink ray flowers encircling yellow centers, ‘Clara Curtis’ can reach a height or 2 feet tall. Hardy in climates as low as zone 5, the key to survival and highest garden potential for this plant is well-drained soil, consistent deadheading, and full sun. To avoid leggy plants, cut back by half in June. This will accomplish a more compact and attractive habit.

First cultivated as an herb in China during the 15thcentury, symbolism related to the Chrysanthemum abounds throughout many cultures (as one might expect of a plant with such a long history) ranging from optimism and joy to grief. It is also the November birth flower and the official flower of Chicago. Mums are short-day plants (like Poinsettias), meaning that they require long days for vegetative growth and short days for flowering, which aptly explains their fall bloom time.Shōmu-en
Japanese Garden & Reflection Pool
Ginkgo biloba/ Maidenhair Tree

Pure Autumn Royalty- Ginkgo biloba is a magnificent tree any time of the year, but during the month of November in Nashville, TN, it truly is a sight to behold. Cheekwood represents this tree well throughout the grounds; one of the best is showcased within the Shōmu-en Japanese Garden. Another, a female, is growing near the Reflection Pool in the Martin Boxwood Gardens. The ginkgo’s fan shaped leaves, attractive ridge-y bark, pyramidal growth habit, and ability to withstand a wide scope of growing conditions (including confined spaces), make the tree extremely popular and beloved by many.

One of the world’s oldest living trees- 165 million years old on Planet Earth(!), it is a gymnosperm, just like conifers. Gymnosperm literally means “naked seed”, therefore the fruit of the ginkgo is not enclosed within an ovary structure. When adding a ginkgo to any landscape design, one would be prudent to select a male, if possible. It is not easy to discern the gender until it’s quite mature (20-50 years). The seeds produced by female trees emits a universally unpleasant odor. Perhaps the coolest fact about this tree is that the ginkgo can live to be 3,000 years old.

Photo courtesy of Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia, Bugwood.orgPresented By Jackson National Life Insurance Company 

With special thanks for the installation to:

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives 

With special thanks for the Poinsettia Tree to:

Dr. J.J. Wendel Plastic Surgery
lights entranceThis spectacular holiday event requires months of preparation and a team of highly skilled workers to get the job done. Outdoor Lighting Perspectives’ Bob Lyons has worked with Cheekwood the last three years on the installation of Holiday LIGHTS. Bob and his team start setting up at the beginning of August and aim to deck our gardens with ONE MILLION LIGHTS by mid-November.

“The Star Field was definitely one of the more challenging pieces this year,” said Lyons. “It’s comprised of over 250 sections of lights each with a different program to make the dancing lights a reality.”star fieldIn addition to the Star Field, our new trains exhibit will be lit up each night to entertain the kids and kids at heart. This year’s Holiday LIGHTS experience features everyone’s favorite traditions as well as plenty of new enhancements for the whole family to enjoy. Holiday LIGHTS is open every night from 5 pm – 10 pm until December 30, and tickets can be purchased in advance online for one of two time slots each evening. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit our Holiday LIGHTS page here.


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