Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Through 2017
Various times

Six more weeks. While you await the first blooms, escape the slush and grey in a tropical forest without getting on a plane. A dazzling display of flora never before seen at the Oakland destination, Phipps‘ new Tropical Forest Congo exhibition marks the culmination of extensive research conducted by Phipps staff during trips to Cameroon in central Africa.

Melt into lush landscapes boasting the country’s most breathtaking plants, animals and cultures. Encounter specimens sourced from nurseries throughout the US as well as from seeds procured from Nigeria in the show’s dynamic new displays highlights African. Step up to impressive sausage trees—known for their fragrant red flowers and large tubular fruits that can weigh up to 22 pounds—and the colorful Napolean hat plant which bears passionflower-like blooms on its trunk.

Educational kiosks, photography displays and a regional foods marketplace will entice you to explore the rich culture of Cameroon. Head into the Special Events Hall to view a royal palatial façade from the Bamileke tribe, complete with ornate wooden columns. See ceremonial elephant masks and stones carved by local artist Richard Hower and visit a replica of a small dwelling common in a forest-dwelling Baka village.

After opening with a family-friendly festival on Feb. 7, Tropical Forest Congo remains on view to the public for three years.

Looking for a tasty new twist on happy hour? On Feb. 19, from 6 to 8 p.m., head to Phipps’ Hothouse Happy Hour for Young Professionals to enjoy local libations amidst the blooms. Co-hosted by the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project (PUMP), the mixer will showcase the Pittsburgh-sourced spirits of Maggie’s Farm Rum. Phipps’ own edible gardening expert, Mike Bechtel, will be on hand to share tips on growing herbs indoors. Be one of the first 150 to arrive and receive a potted plant.

Need a place to wear that flowered shirt that’s gathering dust in your closet? Wear a tropical shirt to Phipps on Tropical Sundays (Feb. 8, 15 and 22), and receive 50 percent off admission as you relax under the palm trees and sway to the sounds of Matthew Mazza and Carmen Bruno of the Tropical Sands Steel Band.

Tropical Forest Congo is one of our top 8 events for February. See all of them here.

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...