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

Summer Flower Show
May 10 – Oct. 5, 2014
The whimsical miniature world of Garden Railroad takes center stage at Phipps this summer. With themed railroad displays in multiple exhibit rooms enhanced by unique plantings, interactive features and more, this show will bring the wonder of childhood to visitors of all ages.
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.
Farmers at Phipps
Wednesdays, June – October 2014
2:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Refresh your food shopping experience! Visit our sustainably managed front lawn to browse organic and Certified Naturally Grown fruits, vegetables and more from local farms.
BETA Art Tours
First and third Saturdays, July – October 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
Tropical Forest India Festival
Sept. 21, 2014
11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Join us in the Tropical Forest Conservatory for our final Tropical Forest India festival as we celebrate plants, food and culture through fun activities, live music, food tastings and more. The festival is free with Phipps admission.
Members-Only: Peek Behind the Petals
Sept. 27, 2014
9:30 – 10:15 a.m.
Take a fascinating look at the global adventures of our Botany in Action Fellows at this edition of our members-only Peek Behind the Petals series. This event is free for members; however, space is limited and reservations are required by Sept. 20. To reserve, please contact us at 412/622-6915, ext. 6505 or
Botany in Action: Meet the Scientists
Sept. 27, 2014
1 – 2:30 p.m.
Our Botany in Action fellows will be stationed throughout the Tropical Forest India exhibit to display their research tools, answer your questions and offer intriguing details about the work of field scientists.
Biophilia: Pittsburgh
Next Meeting Oct. 2, 2014
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 Oct. 3, 2014
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.
Fall Flower Show
Oct. 18 – Nov. 9, 2014
In celebration of the harvest season and its changing hues, this colorful exhibit showcases beautiful chrysanthemums, vibrant foliage and other festive flowers as tiny trains wind their way through many of the Conservatory’s display rooms.
Native Plant and Sustainability Conference
Nov. 1, 2014
8:30 a.m. – 2:45 p.m.
William Pitt Union, University of Pittsburgh
Phipps’ annual Native Plant and Sustainability Conference brings together national experts for a one-day forum on plants, landscapes and our roles as environmental stewards. This year’s program pairs an entomologist with a landscape designer to help illuminate how a well-designed landscape can be a place of beauty while fulfilling several important ecological functions.
Garden Railroad
Now Open
A unique twist on the traditional Garden Railroad, this year's display takes you to Phipps Prehistoric Park — a whimsical world where dinosaurs are brought back to life! Full of surprises, detailed models, moving parts and trains, this can't-miss exhibit is a thrilling adventure for all ages.
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!