It was depressingly cold outside, when I saw the feature in Sunday’s newspaper on the start of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens spring flower show.

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Hubby was game, and suggested we go out to eat too. So after dragging ourselves to the gym, we came home, showered and headed downtown for a lovely brunch and afternoon among flowers.

As a holiday present to ourselves, we recently joined Phipps as members. As I discussed in Christmas Card from Old Quebec City, Mr. Buzz and I decided to give each other experiences rather than things this year.

Our first visit as members was just prior to New Years, taking you with us in the post, Magical Phipps Winter Flower & Light Show. In retrospect, it was a lot colder, actually frigid then.

Come with us on an impromptu, lovely way to ward off the winter blues. 

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Sunday Brunch at the Museum

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The Oakland area of Pittsburgh is where you’ll find many colleges,hospitals, museums, parks and other cultural institutions.

Adjacent to each other are the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Carnegie Museum of Art. In between the two museums is the delightful Carnegie Cafe, under the direction of James Beard semi-finalist, Chef Sonja Finn.

Pittsburgh is Full of Carnegies & Pitts Too!

The café is conveniently located near both The University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon. I know, I know, that’s a lot of Carnegie’s, and that doesn’t even count the libraries, music hall, etc.!  We pronounce it differently than the Carnegie Hall in NYC — ours is the correct way of course!

There are actually four Carnegie Museums in Pittsburgh, including the Science Center and Andrew Warhol Museum. You can take a tour there with me in, Illuminating Visit to the Andy Warhol Museum.

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The café has been recently renovated, and I’ve wanted to go there with my husband since the holidays. There’s a great vibe to the place. I had already been there for lunch, with my gym buddies. We had come to see the annual Christmas tree and crèche exhibit in the museum’s Hall of Architecture. Something I never found the time to blog about…

One entire wall of the café is glass, where — despite the cold temperatures — the fountains were bubbling.

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Not Counting Calories

I had the Winter Vegetable Crepes with Brussel sprouts, mushrooms, pumpkin, kale, leeks, sage, béchamel, and Raclette cheese. A delicious repeat of my December lunch with the girls — it was that good!

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Since hubby was tempted by the root beer float with homemade vanilla ice cream, I had to have dessert too, right? So, I went for a Pittsburgh classic, burnt almond cake. There goes all the benefits from the morning gym class!

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Time to walk some of these calories off at the spring flower show!

Oakland and the Carnegie Museums are wonderful places to visit. Maybe you’ll find yourself in my neck of the woods on business, for pleasure, a wedding, or on a college visit with children or grandkids?

125th Anniversary Celebrated During Spring Flower Show

Phipps is one of America’s oldest and largest conservatories, and is celebrating its 125th anniversary during 2018.

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There are a number of new initiatives and activities planned through the year, so it’s an especially good time to be members.

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Scents of Wonder

Entering the newly restored Palm Court is always an awesome sight. But, during the spring flower show, it was filled with intoxicating scents.

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Guests are invited to get nose-to-petal with thousands of aromatic lilies, tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and more spring favorites throughout the glasshouse. The conservatory will awaken the senses with room after room of nature’s most beautiful spring blooms on display, bursting with vibrant colors and favorite fragrances.”

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In the Serpentine Room, an ornate purple bathtub held blue hydrangeas. It sat beneath delightfully bubbly lanterns and laundry lines; hung with crisp linens and fresh lavender.

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An old-fashioned washtub gurgled amid the blue flowers and intoxicating scents.

Goddess in Residence

I always enjoy seeing whatever is in what I call the ‘pond room’. It’s encircle by paths that lead off in four directions. Many people use it as a backdrop for selfies and group photos.

For the spring flower show, a goddess was in residence amidst columns topped with giant bowls of orchids.

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She had me daydreaming about our Visit to Amazing Ancient Athens and Small Ship Greek Island Cruise.

At Christmastime, an enormous lighted tree seemed to float, while it sparkled and reflected in the black pool.

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Paths and overlook spots encircle the area, with spokes leading into four other rooms —so, you can see the goddess coming and going.

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I love how she is reflected in the dark water.

Orchid Show

Phipps’ orchid room is open year-round, but during the annual orchid show (which coincides with the spring flower show) it’s a riot of blooms.

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We thought this orchid, with hundreds of tiny white flowers, was unique and beautiful.

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I took a ton of pictures and am sharing some of our favorites, or at least the best of my amateur, cell phone shots, LOL!

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My mother and dad always loved to visit Phipps when I was growing up. Mom has raised numerous varieties of orchids, along with her bonsai.

Alas, her daughter did not inherit her green thumb — although my one and only orchid is blooming right now! Not gonna share a picture of it, as it pales in comparison to those at the spring flower show. The orchid was an anniversary gift from our boys about five years ago. How it survives, let alone blooms, perplexes me. I don’t fertilize it as I should (sorry mom!). It must like all the humidity in the bathroom?

Anyway, I thought mom would enjoy seeing these orchid pictures. Do you have any orchid plants at home?

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I love true blue flowers. This is hubby and my favorite orchid in the show. See the Dale Chihuly alien in the water? Look in the bottom left corner. He’s one of several walking through the stream as part of a permanent glass installation.

Below is more of the alien’s buddies — a picture I took during our December evening visit.

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Spring Blooms Eternal in Glass

The permanent Chihuly glass installations are especially dazzling at night, as they were when we were there at Christmastime.

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But during the spring flower show, I especially liked seeing sunlight streaming into the building. While in the orchid room, we came across these larger-than-life orange sculpted orchids.

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There were several new glass installations by Jason Gamrath scattered about. I think the installation below is called Embers.

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Apparently we really missed the boat on what was a fabulous six-month exhibit through last November (and before we got our membership). I viewed pictures online of Gamrath’s glass art, and his works are incredible.

Following in the footsteps of blockbuster shows by Chihuly and others, Gamrath’s SUPER NATURAL brought an exciting new twist, showcasing glass orchids, Venus fly traps, pitcher plants and other stunning specimens that are remarkably accurate representations of their living counterparts — only on a massive scale, standing anywhere from six to 14 feet tall. The show filled the glasshouse rooms with more than 40 major installations, many of which were custom made for Phipps.”

Have you ever heard of Gamrath or seen his work?

Retail Therapy

After touring the conservatory and greenhouses, it’s always a treat to stop in and browse at the Phipps gift shop. And now I’m armed with a member discount! I ended up finding a bee bowl and spreader to go with all my bee tableware.

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I would have loved to pick up three more for this year’s My Favorite Things Party, but at $35 each that is well over our $10 limit. Earlier this week I posted details on How to Host an Extraordinary My Favorite Things Party (Part I). My first party theme played off of my name, Deb-bee.

I have a lot of bee themed tableware, dishes, glasses, flatware, serving pieces, etc… now I have more…

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I just can’t bee stopped (bad pun intended!). See more at A HapBEE Birthday Table and Beehive Dessert.

Hoping to see the tulips, crocus, hyacinth and daffodils coming up soon in my yard — at least in time for Easter in two weeks. I may lack a green thumb, but outdoors Mother Nature does her own thing!

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