Looking across the rowhouses and apartments of central Oakland toward Phipps Conservatory. In the distance at upper left is the Park Mansions apartment building.
Rooftops of Oakland and Phipps Conservatory
Japanese Courtyard Garden, Phipps Conservatory
A carefully orchestrated symphony of textures.
There are many species of Habenaria orchids, including several native to North America. But this one wins the prize for unusual flowers. Enlarge the picture above to appreciate the individual flowers.
Habenaria medusa is a terrestrial orchid (it grows in the ground, whereas most of the tropical orchids we cultivate grow on tree branches), so Phipps Conservatory keeps this one in a big terra-cotta pot that probably takes two strong volunteers to move.
Begonia masoniana, grown for its strikingly patterned leaves, at Phipps Conservatory.
Paphiopedilum Transvaal ‘Beechview’
Its parents come from Indonesia, but this paph speaks with a Picksburgh accent. According to its tag in the Orchid Room at Phipps Conservatory, it has won an Award of Merit from the American Orchid Society.
Papihopedilum Transvaal is an old hybrid, first made in 1901, between P. chamberlainianum and P. rothschildianum. Orchid genetics are complex enough that the seedlings from a hybrid are all different, so each one can become a named clone (with the name in single quotes) if someone likes it well enough. Obviously, with AM-AOS after its name, someone would like this one a great deal.
Two Species of Stanhopea in Phipps Conservatory
Stanhopea is a genus of orchids with remarkably complex flowers whose intricate mechanics make the pollinator bees go through an amusement-park ride to get the nectar they want, and incidentally pollinate the flower. The flowers hang down from the bottom of the plant, so in conservatories Stanhopea species are usually grown in hanging baskets. Above: Stanhopea ruckeri.
[Updated update: The tag identified the plant as Stanhopea wardii, but a Wikimedia Commons user identified the photos above as S. ruckeri and renamed the files, which made the pictures disappear from this page. They have been restored under their new file names. The user who changed them was kind enough to correspond with Father Pitt, noting that he had submitted the pictures to a leading orchid taxonomist who is an expert on Stanhopea. Phipps orchid tags are sometimes wrong, since the collection is huge and has been growing since 1892, so old Pa Pitt is inclined to believe the Stanhopea expert. But you should know, if you care, that there is some doubt.]
Below: an unidentified species of Stanhopea (marked “Stanhopea species” on the tag).
A Christmas tree from six years ago in the Phipps Conservatory Winter Flower Show of 2014.
Patterns of leaves and glass in the Palm House at Phipps Conservatory.
Phalaenopses at Phipps