The Thirty Minute Blogger

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Established in 1893, the Phipps Conservatory and Gardens have been wowing the general public with both their interior greenhouse gardens and the gardens on the grounds. My family was there over the long Thanksgiving weekend and found their Christmas display far more rewarding than anything Black Friday could produce (sorry big box merchants). Called the "green heart of Pittsburgh," there are many events held at the Phipps for your enjoyment. We saw the Winter Light Garden and Flower Show, the Garden Railroad, and the Candlelight Evenings all in one fell swoop. We missed Santa's visit as we arrived after the jolly old elf had returned home.

The massive Victorian structures of steel and glass that are the greenhouses themselves, set in Pittsburgh's Schenley Park, are worth the visit all by themselves ... add the plants they support in the different environments created and you have endless fascination. The mission of the Phipps is listed as:
To inspire and educate all with the beauty and importance of plants; to advance sustainability and promote human and environmental well-being through action and research; and to celebrate its historic glasshouse. 

The Phipps is looking to the future of sustainability as well. The buildings are among the greenest and most energy efficient in the world. But, I could go on all day. Instead, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. Oh yes, one more thing, dinosaurs invaded the garden railroad this year, delighting children with their prehistoric antics and keeping parents and older friends and relations busy trying to find them all. Also, this is the only garden railway I've seen with an active volcano in its midst.

If you visit, give yourself a good 90 minutes to see it all. Go to their website for details at for the nitty gritty about hours and admission fees. It's not free, but it is worth the money!

The Personal Experience: The lobby of the Phipps where you purchase your ticket is nice ... but deceptive. It doesn't prepare you for what is to come. Since the Phipps was ready for Christmas, when we walked into the first green house, there was a woodwind ensemble playing seasonal music amidst the flowers and trees. It was impressive. It was startling as well to come in from 30 something degrees Pittsburgh outside to 70 something degrees inside. It was warm, smelled great, and everyone there was ready to soak up the environment. Conversation ensued, but in quiet tones that reflected the beautiful, elegant, calming plant life all around you. The subdued lighting for the Candlelight Evening draped the place in a sense of mystery and beauty that was played with by the inclusion of playful glass art, including some little people among the abundant flora.

The railroad is phenomenal. It's everything you could have wished for as a kid ... including the dinosaurs and the massive volcano steaming away in the background. 

Going from the 70+ degrees indoors back into Pittsburgh's frosty night was a bit of a shock, but nothing compared to the jaw dropping display of lights awaiting in the outdoors garden. This was a large expanse that invites exploration. You can move among these globes as they change from one color to the next, and children frequently do. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Very interesting photos. Thank you for sharing.