57 years of holiday tradition—a look at the Gardens’ poinsettia tree


poinsettia tree
A display of living color. Photo via the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens

The poinsettia tree has been a beloved holiday tradition at Birmingham Botanical Gardens since 1963. Each year, a living poinsettia tree is assembled for the public to admire and enjoy. We dove into the history and got an inside look at how it’s built today. Check it out!

Almost 60 Years of Tradition

botanical gardens, BBG, poinsettia tree
So festive! The 2020 tree in the making. Photo via Beth Cunningham for Bham Now

According to Jason Kirby, Library Assistant and Archivist with the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens, BBG has done a poinsettia display during the holidays from the time the Conservatory opened up in 1962. The poinsettia tree tradition began the following year in 1963.

Since then, the poinsettia tree has been a staple of the holidays in Birmingham. Each year, the trees have their own unique look. Today, the gorgeous tree towers above almost everything else in the Conservatory.

An Inside Look at the Poinsettia Tree

botanical gardens, BBG, poinsettia tree
As you can imagine, putting this tree together means a whole lot of climbing up and down a ladder. Photo via Beth Cunningham for Bham Now

Adam Benjamin, District Supervisor with the City of Birmingham Park and Recreation Board, assembled the tree this year. We got to go check out the progress while the tree was “under construction,” and I was floored by how much work and attention to detail goes into it.

Located in the Conservatory, a massive Christmas tree-shaped frame holds hundreds of individual poinsettia plants.

One of the coolest parts of the inside look was seeing the greenhouse filled with a sea of brilliant crimson leaves—it’s absolutely breathtaking even before it’s assembled.

The vintage photo on the left shows the poinsettias all laid out and ready to be turned into a spectacular display of festivity. The photo on the right shows the exact same thing, just many decades later.

The Holiday Season at Birmingham Botanical Gardens

We love wandering around the 67.5 acres of Birmingham Botanical Gardens any time of the year. In fact, we recently shared our own autumnal tour of the Gardens.

The holiday season is extra-special, however. While the poinsettia tree is certainly the feature, it’s only one part of the annual holiday offerings.

This Saturday, December 12, the Friends will host a special, free member-exclusive holiday storytime featuring award-winning author Tomie de Paola’s The Legend of the Poinsettia. Attendees will receive a commemorative book.

Registration is limited, so join the Friends (if you’re not already a member) and reserve your spot today.

Fun for the whole family. Photo via the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Birmingham Botanical Gardens is open to the public 365 days a year, and admission is free. Don’t miss your chance to go see this tradition in person! Trust me, you won’t want to miss it.

Give the Gift of the Gardens

poinsettia tree
The completed 2020 tree. Photo via the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens

After taking everyone on your nice list to see this stunning display of living color, give them a gift they’ll appreciate year-round. Membership with the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens is the gift that keeps on giving, 365 days a year.

Here’s a preview of what it includes:

  • Discounts at participating local nurseries, garden centers, and flower shops
  • Free or discounted admission to 300+ botanical gardens across North America
  • Complimentary member gift plant at the Friends’ Fall Plant Sale each year
  • Exclusive classes and events
  • Priority registration for special events and children’s summer camps
  • Free general admission to Antiques at the Gardens
  • Subscription to the Friends’ exclusive quarterly newsletter, The Garden Dirt

Membership starts at just $50/year. Gift the Gardens today, and enjoy 10% off any membership level with code GARDENS2020.

Want to keep up with the Gardens? Check them out on FacebookInstagram, or Youtube for all the latest.

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Beth Cunningham
Beth Cunningham

A Birmingham transplant who can usually be found hitting a new hiking trail or restaurant opening when she's not writing stories and snapping photos for Bham Now.

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