Phipps recommends:
Cornelian Cherry Dogwood



As a naturalist and former vice president of science and stewardship for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Paul g. Wiegman has spent his career exploring, learning and educating others about the marvelous natural history of Western Pennsylvania. Through his photographs of our region's farms, fields and forests, he hopes to inspire viewers to explore nature, experience its genius, and share his desire to protect and preserve it. We took a few minutes with Paul to discuss the natural world as seen through his lens.

How did you first become interested in photography?  

It’s been a lifelong pursuit. I got my first camera when I was 8 and learned to process black and white film in a dark corner of the basement. Throughout high school, college and beyond I’ve never been without a camera. My undergraduate studies focused on botany, and photography was a natural extension of field work. While working for the Western PA Conservancy, I photographed land we had acquired or were considering for acquisition as part of my responsibilities.

Where do you get the inspiration for your photos, in particular those featured in the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL)?  

My inspiration comes from the subjects. I have a love of the natural world and photographing species and landscapes comes naturally. The pieces in the CSL are best described as found subjects. An example is my photograph of the fall view across the Yough River in Ohiopyle State Park: I had been riding on the Great Allegheny Passage; it was late afternoon and the clouds were breaking after a shower. The light skimmed the top of the adjacent mountain and illuminated the peninsula across the river. The photo wasn’t planned. The subject just presented itself, and I was lucky enough to be there at the right time. It was simply found.  

What are your favorite places and subjects to photograph and why? 

Most of my recent work has been of the Allegheny Mountains of Fayette, Westmoreland and Somerset Counties and the Great Allegheny Passage. I’m also very much interested in photographing plants, both native and cultivated. I’ve recently been working on a technique for photographing plants with a pure white background, creating images that are reminiscent of botanical prints of the 18th and 19th centuries.

What is the most difficult part of the photographic process?

The most difficult part is finding the right subject in the best light. I’m constantly looking for subjects and watching the light as it moves and changes. I often find wonderful views, but if it isn’t the right time of the day or the clouds aren’t quite right, I pass and wait for another opportunity. On the other hand, I need to be ready when a unique situation arises, and the subject and light come together.

What impact do you hope your photographs will have on CSL visitors?

I hope that they like the work and will take time to visit and enjoy the locations I captured.  

Photos © Paul g. Wiegman

Other Featured Exhibits & Events

Winter Light Garden
and Flower Show
Nov. 28, 2014 – Jan. 11, 2015;
Winter Light Garden open evenings 5 – 11 p.m.*
Take a walk in our Winter Wonderland as we bring to life one of the most beloved carols of all time. With glowing evergreens, festive poinsettias, illuminated glass and our stunning outdoor Winter Light Garden, Phipps will sparkle and shine like never before this holiday season.
*Weather permitting
Garden Railroad
A unique twist on the traditional Garden Railroad, this year's display takes you back in time to the California Gold Rush — complete with water features, interactive buttons for children to push, and miniature living plants.
Candlelight Evenings
Nov. 28, 2014 – Jan. 11, 2015*
Extended Hours: Open until 11 p.m.
Winter Flower Show is even more enchanting at night – a time when glowing candles light your way and live music fills the air. 
*Note: Phipps will close at 5 p.m. on Dec. 24 and reopen at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 26.
Santa Visits
Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 21, 2014
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Bring the kids, or the entire family, to pose for a photo with Santa: It’s a perfect way to get into the spirit of the season and share a special memory with your holiday mailing list! Santa Visits are free with Phipps admission.
BETA Art Tours
First and third Saturdays, December 2014
Next Tour Dec. 20, 2014
11 a.m. – noon
Discover the BETA Project, a new collection of art at the Center for Sustainable Landscapes designed to enhance and restore the bonds between people and the natural world. Tours are free for members; however, space is limited and reservations are required by the Thursday prior to each tour date. To reserve, please contact us at 412/622-6915, ext. 6505 or
Family Fun Days
Dec. 26 – 30, 2014
11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Featuring a variety of engaging educational activities, all free with the price of admission, these special days at the Conservatory are filled with adventure and fun.
New Year's Eve Family Celebration
Dec. 31, 2014
6 – 9 p.m.
At this family-friendly event, featuring a variety of activities for children, we will welcome 2015 with an early countdown at 8:45 p.m. so that everyone can join in the fun.
Orchid and Tropical Bonsai Show
Jan. 17 – March 1, 2015
Chase away the winter blues with the spectacular sight of orchid specimens arranged in beds and baskets, and see unique selections from our permanent collection of tropical bonsai.
Biophilia: Pittsburgh
Next Meeting February 2015
6 p.m., with networking and refreshments at 5:30 p.m.
Biophilia: Pittsburgh is the pilot chapter for a Biophilia Network of creative minds meeting monthly to discuss strengthening the bond between people and the natural world through education, discussion and action. Meetings are free to attend; advance RSVP is required. Join the conversation!
Party in the Tropics
Select Fridays
Next Party Feb. 13, 2015
7 – 11 p.m.
Ages 21+
Gather your friends and get ready to dine, drink and dance the night away at Phipps! Make our paradise your own as you indulge in sweet and savory morsels, taste unique cocktails, and dance to the beats of a live DJ in our Tropical Forest Conservatory. Entry is free with Conservatory admission.
Hothouse Happy Hours
Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015
6 – 8 p.m.
Join us on Feb. 19 as we partner with the Pittsburgh Urban Magnetic Project (PUMP) to kick off Hothouse Happy Hours, a series of events for young professionals, featuring specialty cocktails, beer and wine, inspired bites and dynamic special guests.
Tropical Forest India
Now Open
Explore our new exhibit showcasing one of the most botanically rich regions of the world. Highlights include an Ayurvedic healing garden, spice and tea market displays, a stunning temple facade on Special Events Hall, and more!
Romero the Corpse Flower
Turns Over a New Leaf
Last year, he wowed thousands with his inimitable odor, and this year, he’s back with an amazing new look. After 10 dormant months, Romero has produced an enormous leaf to collect energy for his next big bloom. Visit the Tropical Forest Conservatory to see his transformation firsthand.