Phipps celebrates autumn with harvest colors
Mum's the word — and practically the entire vocabulary — for the next three weeks at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, which is opening its annual Fall Flower Show on Saturday.
You won't see at this show many of the expected pumpkins, which filled the Oakland conservatory last year. The one giant exception is a 406-pound pumpkin, obtained via forklift from a Somerset farmer. That gargantuan gourd will stand outside in the edible rooftop garden, where visitors can gape at it.
But the rest of the conservatory bursts mostly with fall's signature flower: mums, in a rainbow of shades including reds, purples, yellows and golds, whites and oranges.
“I wanted to do something different,” says Laura Schoch, who designed the exhibit. “It's going to be great when they all bloom. ... I think it's all about color.”
Nearly 3,000 chrysanthemums — including multi-blooming pompoms, tall single disbuds, and cascading mums — will fill several rooms in the conservatory, and many of the rooms have special themes. In the curvy Serpentine Room, written displays accompany the flowers to tell visitors the story of how and why leaves change color in the fall.
A doubleheaded, snakelike dragon winds through the Sunken Garden, which is filled with mums in shades of red and gold. The dragon — with heads made of deep red, preserved oak leaves and body scales made out of painted, recycled foam — centers a Chinese-themed room to celebrate Chinese astrology's Year of the Dragon. And to celebrate Phipps' upcoming 120th anniversary, 120 paper lanterns hang from the ceiling.
Another highlight of the Fall Flower Show is the East Room with an “Under the Sea” theme. Colorful fish windsocks hang over the room, which has fish topiaries, plant arrangements that look like coral reefs, shrimp plants with shrimp-shaped flowers and hanging baskets filled with cascading dichondra to depict jellyfish. Sensors in the East Room activate the waterfalls when visitors enter.
People often touch the mums in disbelief, Schoch says.
“They don't believe that they're real,” she says. “But it's a conservatory, so yes they are.”
The new show only lasts 23 days, due to blooming times and the need to prepare for the winter show, which usually opens the day after Thanksgiving, Schoch says.
One of the most anticipated parts of the Fall Flower Show is the annual return of Phipps' Garden Railroad, a giant toy-train village that changes themes every year in the South Conservatory. This year's display takes visitors back to the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, which is the year that Phipps opened. The train village has G-scale buildings from the fair including a Ferris wheel, scenes of farms and industrial centers and scenes from Western Pennsylvania, including a giant model of Phipps.
The conservatory got its first palm trees from the fair, says Jordyn Melino, the exhibit coordinator who designed this year's Garden Railroad, which stays through February.
Visitors, especially the kids, get so excited when they see the railroad setup, she says.
“I think the best part of this is the small details,” Melino says. “It's what keeps you looking.”
Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7824.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates rout Cardinals to keep things interesting in NL Central
- Rossi: Baseball needs a new schedule
- Steelers remain confident in defense
- LaBar: Best next opponent for Brock Lesnar
- Berry wins Steelers’ punting job; Wing traded to Giants
- Pitt forward Maia sidelined indefinitely with thumb injury
- Megyn Kelly’s forte not Pa. Megan’s
- Narduzzi revisits his YSU roots
- Pirates notebook: Burnett continues to progress, amps up to 95-pitch simulated game
- Toyota to invest $50M in driverless technology with Stanford, MIT partnership
- Philly DA won’t fire Fina, two others for porn emails