Tropical bonsai and orchid display at Phipps
Subzero temperatures and icy wind chills make it easy to contract a case of the winter blues, especially for students from states with warmer climates. For Carnegie Mellon students, however, a tropical solace is right in their backyard. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens currently has its “Orchid and Tropical Bonsai Show” on display, offering a warm and colorful reprieve from Pittsburgh’s winter weather.
The display starts in the Palm Court, the first room that welcomes guests upon entering the botanical gardens, and stretches into the two adjacent rooms. The Serpentine Room features the conservatory’s tropical bonsai collection, and the Sunken Garden displays the conservatory’s orchids, which are on display especially for this show.
The Orchid Room, a fan favorite according to staff at Phipps, features the conservatory’s year-round orchid display, and is also incorporated into this show. The Orchid Room features glass pieces from regional artists Jenn Figg and Matthew McCormack as well. The pieces complement the plant life and add to the enchanting feel of the room.
The orchids featured in the show offer a colorful, lively, and fragrant contrast to the bleak colors of winter outside. According to a press release by Phipps, over 25,000 species of orchids exist in the world, and the conservatory features hundreds of them. The Barbara Trisherman Slipper Orchid Collection, which was “curated to be one of the world’s definitive slipper orchid resources,” according to the press release, is just one of Phipps’s many orchid collections featured in this display.
The tropical bonsai collection features a variety of the small Japanese trees that are grown to look old — from the typical upright tree to slanted trees, and even a tree that grows tiny oranges. Guests receive a pebble upon entering the conservatory and can vote for their favorite bonsai tree by placing the pebble in a glass jar in front of their preferred tree. The tree with the most pebbles at the end of the show will be featured on social media, according to a Phipps employee.
While viewers can find a splash of color in the orchid display, tropical bonsai are “said to give those who practice the art a sense of well-being,” according to the Phipps press release.
Those interested in starting their own orchid or bonsai collections can attend public programs on the cultivation and care of the plants on select Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. in the Tropical Forest Conservatory. The classes are included in the price of admission, which, for Carnegie Mellon students, is free. Throughout the year, Phipps’s adult education program also offers bonsai classes on a variety of topics for experienced and novice gardeners alike.
Take a break from studying this winter and instead enjoy a warm escape from chilly Pittsburgh weather at Phipps. The “Orchid and Tropical Bonsai Show” is on display until March 9 and is open daily 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday through Thursday and 9:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. on Fridays.