Photo by Paul g. Wiegman

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Through November 8
Various times

Brightly hued mums are synonymous with Fall in Western PA, popping up everywhere in October from stoops and gardens, to sidewalks and parks. But did you know that these flowering plants are native to Asia and play a significant role in ancient and contemporary Japanese culture?

Photo by Paul g. Wiegman

For the the next two weeks, the best place to experience one of the season’s most legendary blooms is at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Before the dreary gloom of winter kicks in, take in Autumn’s last hurrah at the wondrous Fall Flower Show, on view through Nov. 8th at the Oakland destination.

Designed by Phipps’ plant recorder and display horticulturist Laura Schoch, this year’s Fall Flower Show explores the rich art, history and symbolism of chrysanthemum horticulture in Japan—known as kiku-no-hana. Augmenting the wondrous exhibits of mums are iconic Japanese structures such as lanterns and umbrellas.

Step into Palm Court to learn all about the chrysanthemum’s origins in China, check out vibrant red and orange plants up close and see the flowers set amidst massive origami cranes, metal ornate lanterns and flickering candles.

Photo by Paul g. Wiegman

Wind through Phipps’ Serpentine Room to explore an explosion of color featuring vibrant gradations of white, yellow, gold, yellow, orange and deep red mums, and then wander into the Sunken Garden to encounter dramatic cascading towers of chrysanthemums and rippling waves of wagasas, or Japanese umbrellas.

The visual tour continues in the Victoria Room, where the mighty chrysanthemum—which is featured on The Japanese Royal Crest and one of the country’s national seals—floats in a tranquil pond. Next, head into the East Room, where the bold orange and coral blooms of mums surround an ornate bridge and lanterns.

While at Phipps, be sure to also check out the Garden Railroad, on view through Feb. 28th. Take a miniature locomotive journey through the stories and characters of nine cherished fables and fairy tales including Jack and the Beanstalk, Peter Pan, Rapunzel, Paul Bunyan, The Little Engine that Could and more. A new twist on a Phipps favorite, the whimsical world will delight children and children at heart alike with its interactive components, plants and flowers grown to scale, intricate props and miniature buildings and characters.

Providing a lush backdrop to the railroad’s miniature world is a tiny environment of plants, shrubs and trees. Designed by Phipps’ exhibit coordinator Jordyn Melino—with horticulture and planting displays created collaboratively with horticulturist Aaron D’Addio—the Garden Railroad also features controls and animatronics produced by Paul Widek.

View hours and admission prices.

Looking for more events this month? Read our 11 Pittsburgh events not to miss in November feature.

Jennifer Baron

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...