Not many of us can say that our gardens were designed with Christmas in mind. Al Petrie can.
the Plantings in its landscape are 90% evergreen, so they look great in winter. Sockets were installed all over the yard to take the lights, and the Fence is made of wrought iron rather than wood so people can see through it to see his vacation display.
“Decorating Christmas is a big deal,” said Petrie. “Christmas has always been a favorite for my family. It was always a big tree and kind of decorated outside (when he was a kid). I’ve taken that tradition and made it bigger. The reason we do it is a source Joy for everyone around us. “
He moved into the new house in Lakeview in 2008, but has lived on the property since around 1965. The current Tuscan-style mansion replaced its more traditional Lakeview home, which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
He helped design the house, but picked and designed every plant in the garden, and even laid the bricks. The lights took time to figure out, he said.
“It’s quite a hassle, but people enjoy it so much that we do it every year. There is a sound system with Christmas music while people go through it. Four days before Christmas. We open it up for people to (in the Neighborhood) can go through with their children and take pictures and enjoy it. We also throw a party for adults. “
He explained why the lights look so professional.
“I like the old-fashioned look of paint. What I do – I’ve learned over time – is that it looks organized when you do it in a pattern. But as a friend said, ‘I’m not sure how,’ it’s organized, but it looks organized. ‘”
The key lies in the orderly repetition of colors. “Everything is red, green and blue – all colors flow in that order. It’s not obvious, but if you look around you can see all the different colors so I try to make it more interesting and complicated. The sasanquas are a red, and then green and blue for shorter plants. On tall bushes there is clear light, then red, then green in front. ”
Time has brought some changes. For one thing, all plants – especially trees – have grown larger. Nowadays, Petrie uses LED color floodlights to light up instead of sticking fairy lights in the trees. “The color is so much more intense,” he said.
Over the years there has been trial and error and an ever increasing number of lamps. How many are there?
“I don’t want to know,” he said.