Tuesday, January 12, 2010
The Evolving Greenhouse
Greenhouses have come a long way since the wealthy in Europe and America used them to force oranges and pineapples in glass structures known as orangeries and pineries. During the mid-nineteenth century, the greenhouse developed into a status symbol as well as a practical way to produce almost any crop. Today's greenhouses enjoy a tradition dating back much earlier than even the last century. Its roots go back some two thousand years. And it was not until 1599 that the first practical greenhouse was built. Designed by a French botanist, Jules David, and constructed in Holland, it was intended as a place to grow tropical plants for medicinal purposes. The greenhouse idea soon caught on and began spreading throughout Europe. And experiments to improve the greenhouse concept continued through the seventeenth century. New building technology led to larger and larger greenhouses that housed plants just to please the eyes and palates of European royalty. Despite the elaborateness of these structures, it was the Victorian age in England that ushered in the golden era of the greenhouse. The wealthy began competing with each other to build the most elaborate structures, primarily to house citrus fruits and rare flowers. In America, the first greenhouse on record was built around 1737 by a wealthy Boston merchant, designed primarily to grow fruit. The concept spread slowly, since almost all greenhouses were built for the wealthy. By 1825, greenhouses were increasingly common. Many were warmed by furnace-warmed air; and some were pit greenhouses built into the earth and heated largely by sunlight flowing in south-facing windows. Indeed, the modern concept of the greenhouse is now quite simple and practical. No longer is it the private domain of the elite classes, but something that anyone can have for relatively little cost. Today a greenhouse can go virtually anywhere there is space; it can be attached to a house, placed in the backyard, or perched on a roof or deck. Home production of all kinds of vegetables and flowers has never been quite as easy, or as pleasurable. Learn more and view our large selection of Greenhouses!