Last week I visited Rochester, New York . I traveled there to give a talk…
The 1876 Centennial Exhibition featured conservatories.
The Victorian gardener in the late nineteenth century sought exotic plants that displayed color and form whether in the garden or in the house.
The 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia showcased the love of such plants, especially in the windows of the house and in the glass houses or conservatories that many homes could then afford.
Thomas J. Schlereth writes in his book Victorian America: Transformations in Everyday Life 1876-1915, “The horticultural hall [at the Exhibition in Philadelphia] represented the Victorian love of exotic gardens in glass conservatories.”
The Victorian conservatory became an extension of the house.
Such greenhouses served an important role in the life and work of the nineteenth century gardener.
When glass became less expensive in the late 1830s, the middle class plant lover could afford to have such a conservatory or greenhouse.
In 1892 the Parker and Wood Seed Company in Boston issued a seed catalog with a black and white drawing of an upper middle class house. Two men and two women were playing badminton on the front lawn. (below)
You also can see a large conservatory attached to the house at the left. The conservatory provided a setting for tropical plants that the owner could cultivate and perhaps during the warm months position outdoors so the plant could enjoy the season’s warmth and rain.
A potted plant like a palm or lemon tree also added an exotic touch to the garden.The Victorian conservatory, attached to the house, appeared both in England and America, assuring hours of gardening pleasure for its owner.