Stockport Express

GARDENS under glass


- DIARMUID GAVIN Gardening Expert

WE’RE so used to seeing conservato­ries now it can be easy to forget they only became available for ordinary gardeners over the last generation or so.

They were pioneered by estate owners – if a grand house could produce a pineapple for the dinner table it was a sign of their wealth, sophistica­tion and scientific endeavour. Great palaces such as Versailles outside Paris had orangeries for growing citrus fruits.

These brick, wood and glazed structures were often magnificen­t in scale, ornate by design and attached to the south-facing wall of the house or palace. In Victorian times conservato­ries were developed for the wealthy. They were ideal for displaying plants, which would be mounted theatrical­ly if a conservato­ry tour was planned for guests.

But now cheaper technology and dramatical­ly lower glass prices mean conservato­ries have become commonplac­e in suburban homes and for gardeners they provide great opportunit­ies for growing plants that either find our winters too cold to stay outside or can’t cope with low light levels indoors.

Nowadays the trend is to build on to a house to create a bit of extra space and perhaps a venue to enjoy a view of the garden. Often plant growing will be a byproduct of having one, the furnishing­s come first and plants can be an afterthoug­ht.

If you have a conservato­ry, there are a number of things to consider. Choosing suitable durable furniture and floor covering is important as the space is exposed to light, which can damage many finishes, and watering or simply the humid environmen­t can do a lot of damage.

Often a structure like this will allow you to show off species in decorative pots such as antique ceramics, which wouldn’t be frost proof and are therefore unsuitable for outdoors. Remember that all your plants will need saucers or trays so when watering you can save drops damaging flooring or furniture.

Shading such as blinds is important. Plants like sunlight but when it’s at its strongest it can burn flowers and foliage and it will also be a deeply uncomforta­ble place for you to spend time.

Ventilatio­n is important – good air circulatio­n will help keep fungal diseases at bay. The temperatur­e you maintain will dictate what plants will grow best. If you keep it heated all year round, this will create a dry atmosphere, suitable for palms, agaves, succulents and cacti.

In our rainy climate, conservato­ries are often abandoned for winter and will be great for overwinter­ing tender plants that would be killed off by temperatur­es below zero and frost such as citrus fruit – in effect you are using the space as you would a greenhouse.

 ?? ?? Conservato­ries give us the chance to grow plants that can’t cope with our winters
Conservato­ries give us the chance to grow plants that can’t cope with our winters
 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom