A Day at The Phipps!

The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens are a community staple in Western Pennsylvania, and this past Easter I had the pleasure of visiting for the first time. With its completely transparent exterior, Phipps presents itself as somewhat of a crystal. Walking down the tulip-lined entrance, through the grand doors, into the lofty lobby felt like entering a fairytale, and the showcase only heightened this whimsical, otherworldly mood. The exhibition featured on my visit was fittingly titled Canopy of Color, and around every corner, I was met with vibrant pinks, sunshine yellows, and of course a plethora of greens. After the grim year, we have all just experienced, strolling through this vivacious garden reignited my connection to the world around me by refreshing my senses. There was undeniable excitement in the air while strolling through The Phipps, not knowing what you’re going to be inspired by next; one cannot help but be mesmerized by the eye-popping arrangements that sit among you so nonchalantly.  If spring were a place, it would be the Phipps–full of life, hope, and lest we forget flowers. 

Despite the recent breakthroughs with regard to COVID, it is important to continue to be diligent in our mitigation efforts and Phipps is aware of this. Their regulations include: wearing a mask, following arrows that ensure one-way traffic, and of course maintaining social distance. This organized system made it simple to be safe and did not distract from the beauty of the showcase at all. Inversely, I feel as if these precautions made the display even more beautiful. Since the beginning of pandemic, the public has been aware of the fact that masks are not worn solely for our protection, rather our own use of a mask is meant to prevent ourselves from spreading disease to others. To see every person in attendance sport one was like they were saying: “Hey, I respect you!” and this camaraderie was energizing.

As a bonafide nature lover, a conservatory is something that is right up my alley; but even a homebody can appreciate the charm of Phipps. Each room packed a different punch–from the tropical Cuban-inspired rainforest to the serene Japanese zen garden, to the captivating wildflower meadows–there is something there for everyone. After centuries of industrialization, people are used to the only sights seen being bland, tall buildings, monstrous factories, and the scarce (often littered) patches of land surrounding highways. The engrossing allure of Phipps lies in its ability to reset our perception of the Earth and to inspire our fight to preserve it. For the duration of my visit to the Phipps, the world around me seemed to glimmer as if it were diamond coated, every hue appeared more saturated, and the aroma of flowers felt extra sweet. In the days succeeding my trip, this rose-colored version of the life around me is still lurking. Phipps is so  much more than just a conservatory, it is a link to humanity that everyone should experience

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