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Phipps annual winter flower show aglow

| Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, 12:03 a.m.
The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is illuminated with holiday themed lights in anticipation of the Winter Flower Show.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is illuminated with holiday themed lights in anticipation of the Winter Flower Show.
A decorated rotating tree in a music box in the Palm Court is a favorite part of the holiday show for Jordyn Melino, Phipps’ associate director of exhibits.
Candy Williams
A decorated rotating tree in a music box in the Palm Court is a favorite part of the holiday show for Jordyn Melino, Phipps’ associate director of exhibits.
Lawrence Wright, 2, watches the interactive race cars in the Garden Railroad display. Pushing a button starts the race and cues the announcer’s “Start your Engines” call. Lawrence was visiting the flower show with his parents, 
David and Lynn Wright of Squirrel Hill.
Candy Williams
Lawrence Wright, 2, watches the interactive race cars in the Garden Railroad display. Pushing a button starts the race and cues the announcer’s “Start your Engines” call. Lawrence was visiting the flower show with his parents, David and Lynn Wright of Squirrel Hill.
In the Serpentine Room, a gingerbread house is surrounded by plantings of “Christmas Feelings,” “Autumn Leaves” and “Picasso” poinsettias and paperwhites.
Candy Williams
In the Serpentine Room, a gingerbread house is surrounded by plantings of “Christmas Feelings,” “Autumn Leaves” and “Picasso” poinsettias and paperwhites.
Olivia and Emily Schmidt of Bridgeville, ages 4 and 2 respectively, enjoyed a preview of the winter flower show with their mom, Courtney. Behind the girls in the Broderie Room are plantings of a new poinsettia variety, ‘Premium Ice Crystal,’ Paperwhites and Maidenhair Fern.
Candy Williams
Olivia and Emily Schmidt of Bridgeville, ages 4 and 2 respectively, enjoyed a preview of the winter flower show with their mom, Courtney. Behind the girls in the Broderie Room are plantings of a new poinsettia variety, ‘Premium Ice Crystal,’ Paperwhites and Maidenhair Fern.

Sparkling tree lights, soft candlelight evenings and nearly 2,400 poinsettia plants in 23 varieties will welcome families to celebrate the best time of the year at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ annual winter flower show.

“Holiday Magic: Let It Glow!” is the theme of this year’s display Nov. 23-Jan. 6, which pays tribute one more time to Phipps’ 125th anniversary year. The Victorian glass house in Schenley Park, Oakland – gifted to Pittsburgh by philanthropist Henry Phipps – officially opened to the public on Dec. 7, 1893.

There’s so much to see at the show, beginning in the newly renovated Palm Court, where a large rotating tree appears to have popped out of an oversized open music box.

Jordyn Melino, Phipps’ associate director of exhibits, said the moving centerpiece decorated with Victorian-style ornaments is an eye-catcher that took some doing by Phipps’ staff.

Wow factor

“I’m so glad we tackled that,” said Melino, who assisted show designer Terra Design Studios, based on South Side. “Our prop makers took on the challenge. It will be a real ‘wow’ factor in the show.”

Also displayed in the Palm Court with the rotating tree will be plantings of white Florist Cyclamen, “Jingle Bells” and “Premium Marble” poinsettias, white Phalaenopsis and more.

Melino, who also designed the “Memories in Motion” Garden Railroad and outdoor Winter Light Garden portions of the show, brings another “wow” factor to the lights display with a new optional feature for guests.

When those attending order timed admission tickets in advance — a requirement that helped with crowd control last year — they can select to purchase Holiday Hologram Glasses that reveal snowflake images through holographic diffraction lenses when viewing Phipps’ outdoor LED light displays.

Frosted windowpanes

Melino said this year’s Winter Light Garden will feature 10 new ice tower prisms designed to resemble frosted windowpanes, in addition to the tunnel of lights and illuminated trees, orbs and fountains. The Tropical Forest Cuba exhibit also will feature pink globe lights, illuminated trees and pendant lights.

Indoors, two new varieties of poinsettia — “Premium Ice Crystal” in the Broderie Room, and “Snow Cap” in the East Room — will make their debut in the holiday show in addition to seasonal favorites, including “Merry Christmas” and “Miracle” amaryllis. The Victoria Room will be the setting for a reflecting pond and a 22-foot decorated Kanaan fir tree obtained from a farm in Indiana County, Melino said.

In the Sunken Garden, a unique woodland forest scene will feature trees created from tropical plants, sedums, succulents, peacock and goose feathers, while penguins made from preserved magnolia leaves have fun playing cards and sliding on oversized ice cubes in the East Room among hot pink, blue and purple cyclamen and hydrangeas.

Photos with Santa

Santa Claus will be stationed in the Gallery from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, Nov. 24-Dec. 22, with additional evening appearances Dec. 10-12.

Music makers

On some weeknights throughout the holiday show, live musical entertainment will be featured. Scheduled performances include Fox Chapel Area High School Orchestra 7-8 p.m. Dec. 13, Boyce Middle School Encore Orchestra 7-9 p.m. Dec. 17 and Plum Brass Quintet 7-9 p.m. Dec. 19. Additional performances dates are on Phipps’ website.

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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