Today, the sun was bright and shining on a crisp fall morning, while the University of Delaware Pittsburgh Alumni Club explored the gorgeous greenhouses of Phipps Conservatory.
When I first visited the conservatory, about a year and a half ago, I had anticipated a quick walk-through, a moment of appreciation and an otherwise unexciting look at plants. I quickly learned how wrong I was and how much there is to see and appreciate at Phipps. I had fallen in love with with this secret garden and its natural, flawless beauty, so I was thrilled that we were able to give our alumni the same opportunity.
During the group tour, I learned much more about the plants and flowers and the operation of the greenhouse than I ever would have by visiting on my own. The docent talked about each room we walked through, and she explained the origin of certain plants and the purpose of others. She told us how and where they bloom and why they are a piece of the magic that Phipps has on display.
As I toured the conservatory with my group, I was able to see it from a whole new perspective. Our guide spent time talking about small plants that I wouldn’t have noticed while my eyes automatically searched for big, colorful blossoms. My fellow alumni pointed out different greenery and took pictures of different flowers, noted the shapes and colors of leaves and found various plants more interesting than others.
This was only my second visit to the conservatory, and the place still holds a deep feeling of enchantment and otherworldliness. It is a glorious and much-needed escape from reality. All stress and anxiety seem to disappear as I stepped into the oasis of green plants, bright flowers, and softly filtered sunlight. All sense of time distorts as the sunlight streaks through the window panes and illuminates the room in a golden green haze. At this moment, there is nothing that matters except the foliage.
The glass house seems to hold the key to life within its walls. These walls hold the secret to beauty and diversity and reproduction in every plant species, from orchids and ferns to desert cacti and fruit trees.
Amid the chirping frogs, humming fans, and dripping, bubbling water, I could lose myself in the overwhelming wonder of life. I could spend hours admiring each bud and sprig and leaf and yet never come close to comprehending the immense complexity of the creatures and organisms on this earth.
But I could accept that, because to simply be in the presence of this exquisite splendor and gaze, awestruck, is enough.