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News: Glasshouses Don’t Throw Stones

 

October 10, 2018

From The Garden Club of America Collection at the Archives of American Gardens

 

Growing plants in environmentally controlled areas is a phenomenon that dates back to ancient Roman times. What gardener doesn’t love the thought of an endless growing season?

Starting in the 16th century, the first modern greenhouse was built by the Italians to house new and unusual species brought home by explorers. Over the centuries scientists have used greenhouses to grow plants for study and research while amateur gardeners found them to be havens that protected their most prized possessions.

A vast array of greenhouse variants proliferated as glassmaking technology improved and specific cultivation requirements were addressed. From hot houses and conservatories to Wardian cases, bell jars, terrariums, and cold frames, there were many sizes and shapes of glasshouses.

Over the years, glass structures have even been built for specific needs such as orchid houses, palm houses, orchard houses, and fig houses. All of these foster the same elements: light, regulated temperature, moisture, and protection from the outside elements.

The Orangerie is another glasshouse variation that was developed to address a particular plant’s cultivation needs, in this case, citrus fruits. Some featured stoves to provide heat while others actually had open fires. Plants were sometimes grown in large tubs so they could be moved outside when temperatures grew warmer.

Regardless of the type, glasshouses serve as microenvironments that keep delicate plants from dying over the harsh winter months. What gardener doesn’t love the thought of an endless growing season?



Lead Photo Caption: Greenhouse at Marsh Garden, Dallas, Texas. April 2003. Eleanor Laney, Photographer.

Photo Caption: Orangerie at Parterre, Newport, RI. September 2008. Kathryn Whitney Lucey, Photographer.

 

Images from The Garden Club of America Collection at the Archives of American Gardens.
By Brittany Spencer-King, Smithsonian Gardens Intern, May 2012.

 

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