The winter holidays have a special magic. Kids are out of school, mysterious packages stack up around the Christmas tree, and homes start to smell like gingerbread and pine. In some parts of the country, people break out sleds and skates. Not where I live, unfortunately. Here in the Deep South, we rarely see snow except on Christmas cards—and there aren’t many of those around anymore.
But colorful holiday lights are everywhere, and some of the best places to see them are in botanical gardens across the U.S.
In Colorado, the Denver Botanic Garden’s “Blossoms of Lights” display runs from Nov. 29, 2013 through Jan. 1, 2014. This year, 70 percent of the garden’s one million lights, used on animated sculptures, trees, and various designs, will be energy efficient LEDs. Visitors can purchase special HoloSpex glasses that make the lights look like shimmering 3D shapes.
In Georgia, the Atlanta Botanical Garden will once again present “Garden Nights, Holiday Lights.” This exhibit, which opens Nov. 16, 2013 through Jan. 4, 2014, uses a million-plus LED lights. It’s one of the biggest “green,” or energy-efficient, light shows in the U.S.
LEDs are becoming more and more popular, not just for holiday decorations in botanical gardens, but in parks, downtown areas, neighborhoods, and homes. Switching saves money in the long run, because bulbs don’t have to be replaced as often, and they use less electricity.
This year, recycle your old holiday lighting at Home Depot stores during the fifth annual “Eco-Options Holiday Light Exchange,” a program that lets you trade in your incandescent holiday lights for discounts on energy efficient LED holiday lights. The program runs from Nov. 7 to Nov. 17, 2013.
Toss those old lights for $3 off a Home Accents Holiday purchase; $4 off a Martha Stewart Living or GE purchase; and $5 off an EcoSmart and Lightshow purchase. There’s a limit of five discounts per customer.
If all the decorative lights bought in the U.S. this year were Energy Star-certified, we would:
- Prevent 1 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year, equivalent to the emissions from about 95,000 cars
- Save more than 700 million kilowatts of electricity per year
- Save about $100 million in annual energy costs
Helping save the earth is a holiday gift we can give ourselves. Here’s to keeping a little more green in our wallets, and a lot more greenery on our planet.
We wish you a very Merry Christmas!
All images: 2012 Garden Nights, Holiday Lights display, courtesy of Atlanta Botanical Garden/Joey Ivanesco