Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Victorian Society: The elusive green thumb

Victorians loved everything 'green'. The "Fern Craze" of the Victorian era is a good example. Ferns would be on display EVERYWHERE in the parlor. On tables, in elaborate Urns set on the floor, on Fern stands. Elaborate wooden stands with ornate incised carving. Ferns were a "status symbol" in the day and Victorian often coveted the exotic hard to grow varieties. Outside cool shade gardens filed with rocks and ferns provided a restful place on a warm day.
Victorians took their love of plants to another level with the Victorian terrariums. Elaborate "eco systems' in large glass jars or elaborate table top mini conservatories where Victorians not only grew ferns but also exotic plants.
Among the "upper crust of Victorian society, private greenhouses were all the rage. Perhaps the best known is the greenhouse at Biltmore shown in this photo I took a few falls ago. Biltmore was working farm and some plants were sold for market but a huge quantity was grown in order to provide year round fresh flowers for the Mansion.
Today, thanks to mass production it is possible to have your very own Victorian greenhouse in kit form. This very popular model is available through most online garden stores. Prices vary WIDELY for this same greenhouse. Best price I've found for the 8x10 foot model is around 3500 at Sam's club online. They also ofter a much simpler version of this with polycarb panels for around 650.00. I have built some of these for clients over the years and its a good do it yourself for an advanced ability homeowner. Personally I think these are best on a poured foundation. You can attach these to a house for a conservatory effect but you need special heating/cooling and humidity controls to make these work.
The ultimate in Victorian Luxury is the Conservatory which truly brought the outside world in year round. Conservatories were often off a main parlor and were the ultimate status symbol for the Victorian era home.
These are not "sun rooms' that we associate with modern day tract homes, but rooms for the serious garden enthusiast wishing to recreate the grandeur of the Victorian Era, Costs on these elaborate structures can start as low as 25,000 but can quickly exceed 500,000.00. If price is no object then this is the ultimate however for most of us it will be 'just a dream".



hi, love your blog, stop on over & say hi :) gio

Dan said...

Great post. Insightful that I guess I knew on some level but never really thought about.