Phipps’ winter flower show, light garden is holiday tradition
One of the most beloved winter holiday symbols — decorated and brightly lit trees — will take center stage in “Holiday Magic! Winter Flower Show and Light Garden” at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.
It’s not only traditional Christmas trees that will fill the exhibit rooms at the Victorian glass house in Oakland at this year’s Festival of Trees-themed holiday show Nov. 29 through Jan. 12.
Jordyn Melino, Phipps’ associate director of exhibits, has designed a show that takes trees to new heights — with an 18-foot pine in a floating forest of sparkling trees reflecting in water in the Victoria Room, colorful poinsettia trees created from more than 75 plants placed on metal core frames, and a fun tree crafted from clay flowerpots in the Sunken Garden.
Another tree features vintage seed packets and gardening gloves as ornaments with a watering can topper. “It’s my homage to gardeners,” says Melino, adding that the colorful pairs of gloves will be put to good use by the Phipps horticulture staff after the show.
Also on display are two “Memory Trees” with framed photos of historic events and past flower shows at Phipps. Even at the center of the carousel in the Palm Court that showcases vintage horses discovered in 1997 stored in the conservatory basement is a Fraser fir brimming with lights and ornaments.
New poinsettias debut
Poinsettias still play a starring role in the holiday show, with several new varieties making their debut at Phipps — with such festive names as “Christmas Beauty Princess,” “Christmas Feelings Marble” and “Golden Glo.” The latter with its unusual golden bracts brightens the window boxes in the Victoria Room along with plantings of “Florist Blue” bigleaf hydrangea, “Fantasia Purple” florist cyclamen and hybrid “Princettia Max White” poinsettia.
The holiday show incorporates 19 different cultivated varieties of poinsettias totaling more than 1,825 plants showcased throughout the conservatory.
Traditional “Bravo Bright Red” poinsettias accented by lime green foliage and decorations bring a contemporary feel to the stately Broderie Room. One of the highlights of this display is a massive 5-foot topiary wreath — much too big for anyone’s front door — planted with red and white kalanchoe and dwarf variegated sweet flag.
“Red Glitter,” an interesting variety of poinsettia with its white speckled accents, can be found in the East Room, where topiary woodland creatures are enjoying a feast of nature’s treats such as cinnamon sticks, pine cones and nuts.
The Serpentine Room features a “Winter Wonderland” with its forest scene of reindeer topiaries made of preserved reindeer moss and antlers crafted from dried palm fruit branches. A vintage sleigh is carrying a bagful of letters for Santa, headed for the North Pole post office, which is depicted in a stunning vignette that includes lush plantings of “Florist Blue” hydrangea and “Halios Curly White” cyclamen.
The outdoor Winter Light Garden will be glowing with 62,000 square feet of gardens and lights to explore. New this year are two additions: a Rainbow Glow Tree, a tree-shaped display greater than 8 feet tall with more than 150 colorful glowing limbs, and Bud Flowers, 20 flower-shaped elements situated under the garden’s fern leaf beech tree that resemble a carpet of flowers ready to bloom.
Visitors can view the lights using special Holiday Hologram Glasses available for purchase that add a new dimension to Phipps’ LED displays. Children’s tickets for nonpeak days (Mondays-Wednesdays except Dec. 30-31) include a free pair of glasses.
Railroad on the farm
And what would the holiday show be without Phipps’ Garden Railroad? This year’s theme is “Farms, Food and Family,” incorporating animated displays of farm animals, tractors and trains that explore different types of farms, including windmills, urban gardens and rural fields.
A variety of holiday events and programs throughout the show, including Santa visits and live music performances, make the winter flower show the most popular exhibit of the year.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.