A Visit to Phipps Conservatory’s A Splash of Brilliance – Orchid and Tropical Bonsai Show

Living in Pittsburgh our family has been members of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens for years.  I especially love going to Phipps this time of year (February) when we’re in the dead of winter and yearn to be around nature, greenery, and in outdoor spaces.  We don’t just visit Phipps in the winter, the shows at Phipps are great all year round, but when you can’t get out into the woods due to winter, or you haven’t left your home due to pandemic precautions, it makes Phipps especially satisfying.  

Phipps – Snowy outside, tropical inside!

The currently featured exhibit at Phipps is A Splash of Brilliance, the Orchid and Tropical Bonsai show.  This show featured brilliant orchid colors almost everywhere.  The arrangements were elegant, creative, immersive, and brilliant.  There is usually one room dedicated to orchids, but several other halls were adorned with every conceivable species of orchid and covering the color palette from brights to pastels, earthtones to neons, and everything in between.  The diversity of orchids also included their shapes and sizes, and everything fit together in well thought out themed arrangements.  

Just as there are always orchids on display at Phipps, there are usually at least a few bonsai outdoors in the Japanese garden, yet during this show the lobby and a complete room are lined with bonsai that all have plaques commemorating how many years that particular bonsai has been in training.  The bonsai come in many shapes sizes, leaf colors, and more.  I am fascinated that some of them have been in training for 60 years!  Many have achieved magnificent shapes.  If and when Phipps opens up their in-person instruction again I fully intend on taking some of their bonsai classes.  

You can see the wonderful design in this display, with orchids peppered in wonderful arrangements with other plants.

Phipps is always a worthwhile trip, but especially so during the Orchid and Bonsai show.  The plants aren’t the only thing we enjoyed at Phipps on Saturday.  We also ate there.

This was our first time dining at the Café Phipps, which has been featured by Food & Wine Magazine as one of the best museum restaurants in the United States.  It was a very pleasant surprise.  The food was healthy, well priced, and delicious.  The menu wasn’t extensive, but there was something for everyone in our family, even both of my picky kids.  I had a veggie wrap with butternut squash hummus, which was loaded with fresh veggies and delicious.  I was happy it was cut in two because it was enough to take some home.  My kids got tomato soup, an almond butter and fresh berry on whole wheat sandwich, and pulled pork, which they ate completely (which is the biggest endorsement I can give!).  My wife got a chimichurri chicken sandwich that she was very pleased with.  All of the meals came with a small salad and a small fruit salad.  I generally like a lot of the museum cafes in Pittsburgh, but Café Phipps was quite exceptional.  I don’t think any of the other museum cafes serve food quite as fresh and tasty.  

We are very fortunate in Pittsburgh to have a place like Phipps.  Phipps is inspirational, educational, tranquil, and much more.  It appeals to all ages and has something for everyone. I only wrote about the special features of the current show. Phipps also has thier regular gardens that include desert plants, tropical fruits, a formal garden, and much more. Go visit Phipps to escape from the Pittsburgh winter!    

All photos courtesy of Jr. Photographer Liliana, who took my camera and appears to have an artistic eye!

Note:  Phipps is taking many safety precautions, and our visit felt very safe and secure.  There is timed entry and limited attendance.  Masks are required.  Hand sanitizer stations are 

The art of contemplation.

Published by scottmeneely

Gardener passionate about organic gardening, fresh food, sustainable landscaping, home brewing, and much more! Our nursery also includes my wife and 2 kids. We work together, learn together, and travel together. My wife is Panamanian and we try to grow lots of good Latin American ingedients. We live in Baldwin, Pennsylvania in the South Hills of Pittsburgh.

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