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Phipps offers a warm, homey look for Winter Flower Show

| Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, 8:51 p.m.
The Sunken Garden has the theme of 'Portraits and Poinsetta' the Phipps Conservatory Home for the Holidays 2012 Winter Show on Wednesday November 21, 2012. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Star of Bethlehem flowers are part of the Phipps Conservatory Home for the Holidays 2012 Winter Show on Wednesday November 21, 2012. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
The Palm Court has the theme of 'Heart and Hearth' in the Phipps Conservatory Home for the Holidays 2012 Winter Show on Wednesday November 21, 2012. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Over 30 varieties of poinsettas adorned the rooms as part of the Phipps Conservatory Home for the Holidays 2012 Winter Show on Wednesday November 21, 2012. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
The Victoria Room with 'Tree Tradition' at the Phipps Conservatory Home for the Holidays 2012 Winter Show on Wednesday November 21, 2012. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review

Poinsettias, Christmas' signature flowers, will fill Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens for the annual Winter Flower Show, which opens Friday. But the poinsettias — more than 30 varieties of them, along with paperwhites and amaryllis — aren't the only features that shout Christmas.

The theme of this year's show, “Come Home for the Holidays,” plays out in warm, homey touches that Phipps officials hope will give visitors that fuzzy, sentimental feeling of the holidays. A large Victorian dollhouse, handmade by Phipps volunteers, stands in the Welcome Center. A Victorian-style hearth, complete with a faux-flickering fire, greets visitors in the Palm Court. In the nearby Serpentine Room, doors salvaged from Construction Junction stand along the windy path, with wreaths hanging on the doors.

“We're just trying to make a warm and inviting display,” says Jordyn Melino, Phipps exhibit coordinator. “We're really inviting people to come in from the cold and enjoy their time here. I think the hearth in the Palm Court says it all.”

The homey theme continues in the Sunken Garden, where antique photos of Pittsburghers from the Victorian-era line the wall. A giant, 22-foot Fraser fir — decorated with presents, stockings and ornaments — towers over the pond in the Victoria Room. In the adjacent Broderie Room, pinkish poinsettias fill the teardrop-shape mini-gardens. The always-whimsical East Room shows a bear family, made from palm fiber, enjoying a Christmas party, while cardinals decorate the tree, and Santa Claus flies his sleigh in the background.

Another new feature this year is the outdoor Winter Light Garden, where guests can walk a meandering path among glowing orbs, icicle lights that seem to drip, luminous trees and a fountain of light. All lights used are LED, for energy- efficiency.

Bob Vukich, a McCandless landscape architect, designed this Winter Flower Show, along with about two dozen previous shows. He loved the idea of a warm, homey theme for the holiday show. “It sounds good, and it connects with people,” Vukich says.

Other holiday-related activities at Phipps include Santa Visits (Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 23, plus this Friday and Monday); Candlelight Evenings (Sunday to Jan. 6); Poinsettias and Pointe Shoes with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (Nov. 30); Saturdays with the Sugar Plum Fairy (Dec. 15 and 22); Family Fun Days (Dec. 26 to 30); and the New Year's Eve Family Celebration (Dec. 31).

Phipps also is hosting its annual Holiday Tea, with two sittings at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Nov. 29 and 30 at Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park, Shadyside. Tickets are $27, and pre-registration is required. Details: 412-651-5281.

There also will be a Gifts and Greens Market at the garden center from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 29 and 30 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 1.

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or 412-320-7824.

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