In which I fall in love with a flower

Confession: I had never been to Phipps Conservatory before, but I am now signed, sealed, delivered, and hooked.

Last fall, my mom, sister-in-law, and I started taking monthly jaunts to Pittsburgh to spend time with my sister, who lives in the city. Most times, we spend our precious hours in her beautiful rowhouse, talking, eating, and celebrating. This time [in my second-to-least favorite month of the year], we decided to fill our lungs with greenhouse air and our eyes with color. We toured Phipps.

I can’t even start describing it.

Except: If you get a chance, Go.

Jenny and one of her cousins

Phipps Conservatory dates from the late 1800s, and hosts an enormous variety of plants. Some room displays stay largely the same all year round (Palm Court, Fern Room) but many others (Broderie Room, Serpentine Room, Sunken Garden), are dramatically changed every three months to the theme of choice: Spring Flowers, Van Gogh art, Holiday Magic, and so on. This time, the building showcased thousands of poinsettias and Christmas decorations. The South Conservatory featured an entire miniature train set, with fairy-garden-sized plants and accessories. The children thought they’d died and gone to heaven.

I thought the Tropical Fruit and Spice Room would be my favorite, but I found the Orchid Room was. Now I was the one seeing Saint Peter and the angels.

Who knew there was such diversity in orchids? Did you know there are over 25,000 species, with additional tens of thousands of hybrids? And that Pennsylvania is home to 60? Did you know that vanilla beans come from the vanilla orchid, with its seed pods “requiring hand-pollination and nine months of ripening”? Who knew?

Did you know that what we call “Lady Slippers” – my beloved state flower growing up in Minnesota – is a subspecies of orchid? No wonder we thought they were magical.

In case your soul is a bit color-starved at the moment, as mine was, I will share my orchid pictures of the day in a slide show. Pictures are not as sweet as real life, but I do my best. The blooms ranged from the size of my thumbnail to nearly the size of my hand. And each had its own beauty: flecks, trailing tails, fur, rich color, ruffles.

For me, taking a shine to their intricacy became another form of worship. Who could ever have created so much beauty?

Which flower is your favorite?

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4 years ago

The lowly, simple, easy to grow, makes lovely bouquets, and cheery summer flowers. Zinnias

4 years ago

I love Phipps Conservatory. My hubby took me there in February one year to see the orchids. Wow. It was beautiful.

Kris Martin
4 years ago

Oh, I agree! When I saw your title I was not surprised to see it was the orchid! I am so grateful I can go into the jungle across the road from my home in Belize and bring them home and tie​ them to a tree. They are so intricate and fascinating. I never see any of the ones on your pictures in our Belizean bush. I’m also experimenting with bromeliads (air plants) for interior decorating. As well as other beautiful bush plants that live in a vase of water for months. I’m so thankful and amazed at God’s creation!

Beth Freed
4 years ago

Ahh. My daughters, daughter-in-loves, and I were there last year. It is a balm to winter weary souls for sure! Your pictures are beautiful, just wish the scents could be attached as well! ????

Joanna Yoder
4 years ago
Reply to  Beth Freed

Phipps is balm for a winter-weary soul. I’ve been there 3 times, and it is way past time to go again.
I can’t pick a favorite flower. But orchids are one of the top contenders. If only mine would bloom again…I need that color right now!

4 years ago
Reply to  Joanna Yoder

My Grandma-in-law told me the secret to blossoms is watering weekly with a couple tablespoons of warm water

4 years ago

Thanks for sharing! Beautiful photos and the experience! My husband goes to Pittsburg almost weekly, I’ll maybe have to catch a ride and check it out!

4 years ago

I’ve been there!! It IS beautiful, Edenic, worshipful! ????

Ruth Anna
4 years ago

so what is your least favorite month?

Shari Zook
4 years ago
Reply to  Ruth Anna

MARCH, unquestionably. It’s a cruel month in northwestern Pennsylvania – just when we expect spring, we are slammed with blizzards and frigidity. Every year.

Not to be negative or anything {she says bitterly}. ????

Lucinda J
4 years ago

I live not so far from Pittsburgh now. One of these days I will have to check it out!

4 years ago

Lilac bush in full bloom. God gave it to me as a gift this past year when I was visiting home past the normal season. Precious and fragrant.

Esther Smith
4 years ago

Those are gorgeous!
I love sunflowers best.

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