70 Percent of medicines come from the most common of plants. Why not grow some for yourself?

Posted January 25th, 2017 by Nicole Mihalos and filed in Client Stories, Gardening, Greenhouses, Uncategorized
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When people think about adding a greenhouse to their property they are usually thinking about growing fresh or exotic foods, or flowers in mid winter or just extending their growing season. And a greenhouse will make all these things possible. Often overlooked is the ability to grow some of your own medicine.

Have you considered a living green wall?

Our partner, Dea Schofield, writes about growing your own medicine in a blog she titled Are YOU Growing Your Medicine this Winter? Dea is an expert horticulturist we met through a client who was an avid plant collector.

Dea managed his exclusive collection of edible plants. He was passionate about nature and wanted a greenhouse to show off his extensive plant collection. To relate to their existing home we designed a “Horticultural Jewel Box” as it had often been referred that combined all the elements of a gardener’s dream; a seating nook, delectable and edible plants, overlooking the water, and a little touch of the client’s unique design touch that made this greenhouse so unique.

To allow the greenhouse to house a multitude of plant species it required substantial heating and pumping equipment to make the climate consistent year ‘round. To hide the system and still keep the integrity of the design, we integrated a wall of living plants rather than the typical stick-it-outside-and-hope-no-one-notices approach. Few people realize that plant wall actually hides the mechanical equipment! Our plant collector loved the solution, and loves showing it off to visitors.

Dea talks more about the plants our collector grew and more in her blog “Difficult Challenges & Great Rewards.”

Wild Medicine

Dea is not alone in recognizing the value of medicinal plants. Starting Jan. 21, 2016 the Enid Haupt Conservatory at the New York Botanical Gardens is hosting Wild Medicine in the Tropics. Many of the plants exhibited there would work well in a home greenhouse and you can even get some tips and tricks on which are best for your area!


Well respected Dr. Mercola points out that few  people recognize that roughly 70 percent of the medicines we use in the U.S. are derived from plants and other products from nature. He lists seven underappreciated medicinal plants, some of which you may already be growing. All of them, listed below, can also be grown in a greenhouse year around.

·       Ginger ·       Peppermint
·       Garlic ·       Lavender
·       Chamomile ·       Thyme
·       Dandelion

 

A greenhouse with all the plants you cherish, from flowers through edibles and on to medicinal is a magical place, for you, your family and for your legacy.

Now’s the best time to start planning your conservatory or greenhouse so download our e-brochure or schedule a no obligation consultation with our team to learn more!

Do you know how glass conservatories can enhance your children’s health?

Posted October 5th, 2016 by Nicole Mihalos and filed in Greenhouses, Insights, Uncategorized
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For many, glass conservatories and greenhouses are valued primarily for the availability of natural light they bring, particularly in the fall and winter months. What most families don’t realize is the major positive impact conservatories and greenhouses can offer to families anywhere in the world.

Although the tendency is to think of these spaces as primarily adult places, children of all ages can benefit greatly by spending time in there as well. In fact, family time in a home conservatory or custom greenhouse is not only healthy, it’s absolutely delightful.

Health Benefits No Matter the Weather

childrenWhat do you and your children do on a sad, rainy day? Sit around and watch tv, do homework, or drive you crazy! What about the fall or winter months when the harsh winter weather arrives or during the summer when the heat advisory is through the roof? Natural light is essential to your family’s well-being, not only for their physical health, but your mental health as well!

According to Dr. Phyllis Zee, a professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, in an article at Health Day, “There is increasing evidence that exposure to natural light, during the day – particularly in the morning –is beneficial to your health via its effects on mood, alertness and metabolism.”

Greenhouses and glass conservatories allow everyone from infants on up to benefit from natural light year around. The natural light and the abundance of plants stimulate all the senses – seeing, hearing, touching, and smelling. By stimulating your senses in the natural environment it creates a sense of awareness and, in children especially, helps to develop capacities for creativity, problem solving, intellectual development, and gross motor skills.

The Benefits of Play

Conservatories and custom greenhouses provide natural light. They also offer protection from harsh winter weather, allowing fun outdoor -like play to continue all year long. Play in these protected special places allows children plenty of opportunities to be where plants, soil, and light mimic an almost natural environment. Play and learning of all sorts can take place in these marvelous spaces.

According to the Department of Education & Training in a recent article,

“Sensory stimulation derived from interacting with natural environments allows children to learn with all of their senses… in recent review of literature concerning children play outdoors… [There is a link between] time spent outdoors to increased physical activity, healthy development and overall wellbeing. Research also shows that children having trouble concentrating benefit from playing outdoors, as after playing these children are better able to concentrate on tasks.”

The glass conservatory creates an ideal way to bring the natural environment into the home and custom greenhouses can be designed to encourage children and adults to enjoy nature while protected from unforgiving weather.

Physical activity like hide and seek, creating Tiny Gardening Terrariums, trimming plants, planting and more are all possible in these, protected, almost-natural environments. Greenhouses and the conservatories mimic the outdoors, allowing the whole family to experience healthy benefits even when the wind is blowing and the outside air is cold and wet.

Kids in Conservatories and greenhouses

Play in a conservatory or greenhouse isn’t much different than play outside. Or it needn’t be. Even areas for safe rough-housing can be included. Certainly the light and the plants bring benefit to even the quiet activities that absorb the full attention of children.

When you couple great natural light with children at play you have an ideal combination because children benefit from both play and play in nature.

According to Richard Louv, 2008 Audubon Medal Recipient and author of Last Child in the Woods , reported in a Washington Post Article,  “(his book refers to) many studies that have shown that spending time in nature has tremendous health benefits, among them improved concentration, a greater ability to engage in creative play, an aid to help treat mental illness (in particular ADHD and children-in-greenhousedepression), and exercise that beats out organized sports with its hour-to-hour physical activity. Children who spend more time in nature develop better motor fitness and coordination, especially in balance and agility. And the benefits of the mind are not to be overlooked; greater time in nature can help children develop a healthy interior life, greater mental acuity, inventiveness, and sustained intellectual development.”

The greenhouse and glass conservatory offer additional ways to be almost outdoors and garner the same benefits. And play can be anything from a quiet place to read or be read to on to activates including planting seeds and plants and caring for them. Both greenhouses and glass conservatories bring nature closer to home for children. In fact, creating their own Tiny Gardening Terrariums allow kids to explore the science behind growing plants in an ecosystem, use their creativity, and learn about responsibility while keeping their ecosystem running!

The possibilities are endless under a glass conservatory or greenhouse. When it’s time to plan yours, we know you’ll be delighted with the lasting legacy you’re creating for your children and grandchildren., We’d be happy to talk with you and your family about a glass conservatory or custom greenhouse. Please fill out the contact us form or call us at: 410.479.4700.

 

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Take a Journey to a Historic Botanical Gem

Posted June 29th, 2016 by Nicole Mihalos and filed in Dea Digs, Gardening, Greenhouses, Travels
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Around this verdant globe, you will find numerous botanical gardens.

Many will have UNIQUE QUALITIES, and some will seem MAGNIFICENT or much like another in their creative and artful displays. But there is one that stands apart—a humble, but studious little gem nestled in the heart of the ANCIENT CITY OF PADUA, twenty-five miles to the west of Venice. So special is this botanical wonder, that it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997. It holds interest for the plant-lover, the historian, the medically curious, the architecturally or philosophically inclined, and the environmentally conscious.

The Orto botanico di Padova, or Botanical gardens of Padua, began life in 1545, making it the OLDEST CONTINUOUS BOTANICAL GARDENS in the world. Originally, it was created for the study of medicinal plants and has watched the science of botany blossom from that singular occupation to include all study of plants. The garden’s original design still gives it it’s unique look—encompassing a little sacred, symbolic geometry, which soon had to be ringed with a wall in 1552 to protect from early ‘drug’ thieves.

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Through the centuries, there have been changes and phases. Various greenhouses have come and gone, but one will find small, utilitarian antique and vintage examples. There is an orchid hothouse amongst other older buildings.

But the garden has survived so long because it has also moved with times and knowledge, becoming not only a home of RESEARCH, but of SPECIES PRESERVATION. A large greenhouse using state-of-the-art green technology, mixed with old fashioned ingenuity, sits in modernist contrast to the early architecture. It makes for a fascinating journey from ancient to futuristic.

The UNESCO World Heritage Convention states,

For more than five centuries, the Botanical Garden of Padua has represented an exceptional testimony of scientific and cultural significance. Its position, size and main characteristics, as well as its main research and didactic features, have remained essentially unchanged over centuries with a constant adaptation to the most advanced discoveries in botanical and educational sciences.”

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When visiting the old part of the gardens, one must imagine the likes of Padua University alumni like Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo Galilei walking the cardinally-aligned paths on their way to lectures. Perhaps another alumnus, Giacomo Casanova stole a medicinal rose blossom (Rosa centifolia or gallica) to entice a feminine conquest. And the ‘Goethe Palm’, a dwarf fan palm (Chamaerops humilis) planted in 1585, (and beloved by its namesake) which has its own personally-constructed greenhouse, stands as a testament to mankind’s potential, and particularly, our very special and necessary relationship with plants. This is a garden to be viewed & appreciated with attention to its deep history and contributions to human knowledge.

Buon Viaggio!

By Dea Schofield

How can you change the lives of a community?

Posted May 25th, 2016 by Nicole Mihalos and filed in Client Stories, Conservatory Projects, Events, Gardening, Greenhouses, Preservation Maryland, Uncategorized
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In 1999 Brookside Gardens created a strategic, master plan to transform their gardens into a world-class destination. The first phase in their plan called to simply pave an unused space near the visitor’s center enlarging the parking lot, but Brookside’s landscape architect Ching-Fang and her team, Stephanie Oberle, Phil Normandy, and Ellen Bennett ENVISIONED SOMETHING MUCH GREATER – an integrated parking and garden landscape – parking AS a landscape!

With the help of several generous donors, beautiful elements, such as a waterway and gatehouse, were able to bring life to their vision. Made of ALL NATURAL, ORGANIC MATERIALS, from the stone brick wall to the beautiful planted flowers, all elements resting in this entryway has a purpose in the gardens, including the gatehouse inspired by Tanglewood’s modern-styled custom greenhouse!

“This particular gatehouse, designed by Tanglewood Conservatories, was designed to resemble a greenhouse. At night it evokes images of a lantern at the entrance, a beacon lighting the way to a beautiful garden experience… and adding a compelling new garden element.”

-Brookside Gardens

 

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Brookside’s vision for this project was to create an inviting and inspiring space that welcomes people to the gardens and fully embraces the visitor’s functional needs.

“We wanted the visitor center to become the heart of the gardens and extend Brookside’s horticulture and education,” Phil and Ching-Fang said. “We saw the gatehouse as our opportunity to start developing a quality design aesthetic. This is why we chose Tanglewood to design the gatehouse. It is a perfect match to its setting. We are delighted with the results.”

 

Great Challenges Bring Great Rewards

According to Stephanie, Brookside Gardens’ Director, their BIGGEST CHALLENGE was fundraising. Although they had a steep learning curve with fundraising and the creation and management of the project as a whole, Brookside’s staff, volunteers, and donors were dedicated to bringing this center to fruition. According to the team,

“The staff and volunteers are truly dedicated to Brookside Gardens and the project hit close to home for everyone. We are passionate about these gardens and everything we stand for.”

IF THEY COULD DO IT OVER AGAIN, the team said they would have asked a lot more questions. This was the first time they have completed a project of this magnitude. Between fundraising, lead time changes, and roadblocks, this first project brought on some great challenges but it also brought great reward.

This great change within Brookside turned out beautifully. We were not surprised we were able to work so well with Brookside Gardens. After all, our founders, Nancy Virts and Alan Stein, were married there over 20 years ago!

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Moving forward

Stephanie says their team is wiser and more knowledgeable about how to take on future projects of this magnitude. Next on their list is a GROWING GREENHOUSE roughly 10,000sq.ft. and a new CONSERVATORY to replace their now 50 year old beauty! Stephanie tells us,

The estimate for the new conservatory, one that matches all our dreams, is around $25 million. Obviously, more fundraising is on our horizon,”

For more information about Brookside or your project, GIVE US A CALL at 410.479.4700 or fill out our contact form!

Fruit of our labor!

Posted May 4th, 2016 by Nicole Mihalos and filed in Dea Digs, Gardening, Greenhouses
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Of the many purposes to which a greenhouse is put, perhaps growing edibles is the most satisfying, and certainly the most sensible—just ask many Englishmen, who tend their greenhouse-grown tomatoes with pride and loving care, whether the greenhouse is attached to a small cottage or a stately home.

Growing edibles under glass also requires a keen eye and some knowledge! But there are ideal prospects that even the most advanced greenhouse farmer will grow (albeit, perhaps heirloom varieties). Regardless of which delectables you choose, a few basic considerations must be applied. These involve: light, air circulation, temperature, and humidity. Proper control of these (and of course water and phosphorus-rich fertilizer) will ensure a healthy crop with no need for pesticides.

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Sun. Sun. Sun.

The majority of plants grown for food need full sun. This means that if you’re growing off-season, you’ll have several months out of the year that you’ll need to mimic the sun—best done through strong artificial light with the fullest spectrum possible. There are multiple options out there these days for lighting type and you can learn all about ‘footcandle’ (unit of light measurement) requirements for each type of plant.

Air circulation is critical in most conditions, but especially for plants with tasty parts that insects find so appealing, and not to mention helping control fungal and bacterial infection. Keeping the breeze consistent, yet moving, make aphids, mealy bugs, and spider mites uncomfortable (I mentioned that they like edibles as much as we—but they tend to go more for the plant itself). Both ventilation and fans are needed. A little note here about ‘design’ for growth: for any vines, like indeterminate (continuous growth) tomatoes, legumes (beans, peas), and cucurbits (cucumbers, squash, melons), be sure to create a trellis (can even hang from the ceiling) or growing frame of some kind, which will keep them tidy, maximize space, as well as make for easy ventilation.

Temperature Control

Though some herbs can be grown relatively well in temperatures below 70°, the vast majority of greenhouse grown edibles are subtropical or tropical and require higher temperatures once fruit has set. Beans, peppers, and tomatoes need temps consistently at least around 70° to initially set flower and pollinate (which you may assist with an artist’s paintbrush). Cucumbers and other cucurbits like temperatures at least five degrees warmer to set flower, so you can easily up your heating to between 75° and 80° to keep everyone happy. Your tropical plants will love it, and any citrus will surely thank you by producing more happily. If you choose to sow seed, remember that even warmer temps, 80° or more, are necessary for germination. Heat mats under your seed trays take care of that handily. Plants like bananas, papaya, or guava will expect you to provide a toasty environment year round in order to offer you their fruits.

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Proper humidity is essential to the comfort of most plants. Some will prefer less and some will prefer more, but you’ll likely want a minimum of 60%. There are multiple ways to provide it more locally too. If you’re a homebody who loves to potter in your greenhouse, a nice morning watering, followed by a midafternoon misting will do wonders (just be sure not to give your plants a sunburn—as water on leaves can act as a magnifier in full sun). High-tech misters, or even a lovely bubbling water feature, will add ambient moisture. Again, insects don’t care for happy, relatively moist leaves. Proper, consistent water, whether in soil or air, is the single greatest control to keeping your plants happy. In fact, if you should get any of the aforementioned creatures, as you probably might from time to time, simply spraying them away with water is just as effective, and less toxic, than using pesticides.

I have mentioned some of the best options, but this is really just a start. Herbs, citrus, beans, bananas, cucumbers, mini pumpkins, guava, papaya, cinnamon and even strawberries for the winter months are just a few of the lovely possibilities which have cultivars made specifically for greenhouse growing. So happy growing!

Happy eating!

By Dea Schofield

Have you seen us in Virginia?

Posted April 27th, 2016 by Nicole Mihalos and filed in Gardening, Greenhouses, Magazine Articles
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Imagine

… an elegant greenhouse designed to be a simple expression of the honest use of NATURAL MATERIALS. Resting in a beautiful garden, you can’t help but love it. Made of smooth, hand-crafted cedar with copper and stone accents, its CALMING ARCHITECTURE abounds with rare specimens of cacti and orchids – all in your own backyard!best-of

Recently featured in NORTHERN VIRGINIA MAGAZINE, this unique greenhouse is not only used to grow some unusual edible plants, but relished by its owner for the exotic feeling of being outdoors while completely enclosed within a glass jewel.

 

A Natural Retreat

Lynn Norusis, managing editor for Northern Virginia Magazine, wrote an article about this CEDAR GREENHOUSE in the May 2016 issue.

Lynn writes: “Tanglewood Conservatories builds rooms that blend the aesthetic of the 19th century with 21st century technology to create WONDERFUL, LIGHT-FILLED INDOOR/OUTDOOR SPACES. For those of us around the world who have a love for something about these old structures…the greenhouse in McLean hits a note with every aspect of its design.”

Read Lynn’s article, “A cedar greenhouse provides a natural retreat in McLeanand LEARN MORE about the project and the excitement and challenges of creating a custom unique greenhouse.

CALL US at 410.479.4700 to start your own project!

Get the Facts. Improve Your Health.

Posted April 13th, 2016 by Nicole Mihalos and filed in Gardening, General, Greenhouses
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What plants need to be in YOUR GREENHOUSE this season?

According to Harvard’s Health Blog,

Growing your own food has many health benefits… you decide what kinds of fertilizers and pesticides come in contact with your food [and] it lets you control when to harvest your food. Vegetables that ripen in [your] garden have more nutrients than some store-bought vegetables.”

So what is wrong with what you are buying in stores?

What are you really buying?

Advances in biotechnology have allowed scientists to GENETICALLY ALTER different species to create plants that can resist certain insects and grow in unfavorable climates. There are several health and safety concerns such as accelerated aging, antibiotic resistance, and endocrine disruption. Some genetically modified organisms, or GMO’s, can be found in corn, rice, tomatoes, canola oil, papaya, potatoes, bananas, and some meats. Although most of us cannot control how our meat is raised, we can control how our vegetables are grown!

Eat. Sleep. Grow.

There is something about growing your own food that sparks SATISFACTION and HAPPINESS; the feeling that what you are bringing to your table is 100% healthy and nurtured by your own efforts. With the ENDLESS GROWING POSSIBILITIES a greenhouse permits, people around the world are cultivating their own gardens Growing Collageto enjoy the health benefits freshly grown foods can bring. With a growing desire to create HEALTHY FAMILIES and HEALTHY COMMUNITIES, expert horticulturalist Dea Schofield recommends these plants to start growing in your greenhouse!

  • Citrus
  • Peppers
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Papayas
  • Herbs
  • Lettuce

Dea says, “These are all great plants which adapt well under glass. Some are a bit attractive to bugs, but they are easy to control.”

Start Your Growing Season!

These are just some of the many varieties of plants your family can enjoy growing in your home to bring a happier and healthier you! GIVE US A CALL today at 410.479.4700 and EXTEND YOUR GROWING SEASON with a custom greenhouse to fit your family’s growing needs.

Difficult Challenges and Great Rewards!

Posted February 25th, 2016 by Nicole Mihalos and filed in Client Stories, Dea Digs, Gardening, Greenhouses
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Clients come with needs and wishes in all shapes and sizes. And sometimes the most challenging are the most rewarding.

In 2010 I was introduced to an exclusive collector client by a landscape architect I met while displaying at the Washington Home and Garden Show. The client was having a unique conservatory built by none other than wonderful Tanglewood Conservatories. But no one involved, even the architect’s firm’s landscape maintenance division, had experience with caring for plants under glass. They knew they needed an uncommon expert. I was that expert for five years.

Bullock_Final Exterior CopyrightClick here to read more about this greenhouse!

At the start, I didn’t know I’d have to call on all my experience, knowledge, creativity, and the occasional miracle to make things happen for this client. Tanglewood worked their magic in creating a beautiful structure. The landscape architect then subcontracted the rest out before I was brought in. Rather than the usual benches, tables, and pots, there were stone beds built (similar to institutional greenhouses) that I would then design and fill.

After consulting with the client, the challenge was to keep plants from multiple climates in a very limited space. I designed an interior landscape I was sure he and his family would enjoy, with lots of unusual and flowering tropicals as well as some which produced fruit. I was asked to incorporate a good-sized lemon tree he’d had which was dying from nematodes. But after some specialized intervention, the tree rebounded and did very well. There was a succulent/cactus bed, an orchid bed, a large tree fern, bananas, angel’s trumpets, and many other wonders. A rock wall was planted with epiphytes and appropriate climbers. A lovely café table and chairs was added in order to enjoy the beautiful space.

The first two challenges to the health of the plants was the heating, which was built into the floor (sort of a modern version of Roman-style), and the automated watering system (which was an outdoor landscaping system tailored to fit the beds). Both were great in theory, but unfortunately terrible in practice. I strongly recommend against such heating systems for built-in beds and also against automated watering for greenhouses housing multiple climate species. While I couldn’t do much about the heating, at least the watering could be done by hand and the automated system shut down. A Horticulturist must combine botany, biology, chemistry, geology, meteorology—well, I hope I’m making the point that it’s an interdisciplinary thing usually resting heavily on experience. It’s one area where you can’t your fake your way—which leads to an important note about contained systems like greenhouses. They just can’t be fully automated if you’re planning on growing several different species. Unfortunately, in a complex, eclectic collection, each plant needs weekly and even daily care. It was clear the collection needed a caretaker and I was asked to come twice a week.

After the first year I learned not to get too attached to the plants, as I was used to in my own greenhouse or that of other clients. This client was ever keen to replace and try new things. We collaborated on various changes many times during my tenure. The bed which originally housed the angel’s trumpets, eventually became the home of various hot pepper cultivars. More edible plants were added, including an avocado which happily bloomed, but because a ‘mate’ had not been provided, there were no avocados. However, there were plenty of lemons, limes, and tangerines.

There were ever-blooming hibiscus, many re-blooming orchids, herbs, and myriad other plants. The bromeliads and miniature vines in the stone wall eventually took it over. I refused to use pesticides as not only were small children frequent visitors, but also because of the animals.  Thank goodness for herpetological skills, because caught reptiles and amphibians were regularly deposited into this burgeoning ecosystem by the client’s children. (I aided in the escape of many natives, like skinks, toads, Eastern Box Tortoises, and frogs). My ‘green’ sensibilities found natural ways to keep pests under control, which included using lady beetles, praying mantises, spiders, and tiny predatory wasps. It worked very well.

Wonderful triumphs, most unknown to the client, came of solving the challenging problems presented by such an eclectic collection. I kept a watchful, preventative eye, which told me when to do things like specialized pruning, root drenches, or move lady beetles from plant to plant in order to target aphids. When the time came for me to leave the tricky care of that unique conservatory to others, I knew how much I would miss it—despite the sometimes stressful challenges.

The ending of that wonderful experience offered an unexpected gift, thanks to that beautiful, solid structure that housed and protected so much life—the chance to connect with Nancy, Alan, and the Tanglewood artisans. Like me, they appreciate the unique, remarkable, and well-crafted, especially when it comes to conservatories and the treasures they might contain.

By Dea Schofield

To view the details about the Greenhouse, CLICK HERE!

Are YOU growing your MEDICINE this winter?

Posted December 2nd, 2015 by Nicole Mihalos and filed in Dea Digs, Gardening, Greenhouses, Uncategorized
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With winter at our doorsteps…

Did you know there are plants you can grow to help with health and well-being during the holidays? How easy is to grow culinary/medicinal plants in your conservatory?

EXTREMELY! Here are four of my favorites with a special advanced exotic bonus.

ALOE VERA is a plant with a long, illustrious past. It doesn’t have the moniker of miracle cure for nothing; even the U.S. MILITARY studied and stockpiled it for RADIATION BURNS! No household should be without this AFRICAN NATIVE which once grew on an island Alexander the Great seized to keep the plant exclusively for his troops’ medicinal needs.

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While it has multiple HEALING USES, the most well-known is its ability to heal burns quickly and its efficacy is astounding. If you’ve just pulled out the Christmas feast and managed to singe yourself in the process, just snip off a small length of a leaf and rub the sticky gel onto your wound. If it’s severe, multiple applications over an hour will pull the pain from any burn.

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Aloe, being a succulent, is an EASY PLANT TO GROW. It is very forgiving. However, SUN, an occasional weak FEEDING, a high-quality succulent POTTING MIX, and regular WATERING (allow to go only just dry between waterings and let drain thoroughly) will keep the leaves plump and ready to serve you. If it outgrows its space, you can always divide out the ‘mother’ plant and keep however many ‘pups’ you want.

Our next MUST-HAVE was revered by the ANCIENT GREEKS and is known as LEMON BALM, or Melissa officinalis. Being another workhorse in the HERBALIST CABINET, this MEDITERRANEAN NATIVE was also beloved by notables such as WILLLIAM SHAKESPHERE and THOMAS JEFFERSON. It not only has ANTIVIRAL properties, but for centuries has been said to CHEER the mind. So in the dark days of winter, whether you’re having a little bout of SAD or feel a cold or flu  coming on, just go out to the greenhouse and snip some stems off your Lemon Balm plant and MAKE TEA (allow it to steep for at least 5 minutes).

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Outside, it’s a perennial in the mint family; inside, just keep WATERING and snipping to MAINTAIN SIZE AND SHAPE, giving the OCCASIONAL LIGHT FEEDING. You don’t want to let the soil get too dry, but also likes to be relatively well-drained. The LEMONY SCENT that comes from just brushing against it will put a smile on your face in the dead of winter. It’s easy to dry for tea—but there’s NOTHING LIKE the fresh thing with a little honey to chase winter ‘blahs’ away.

Virtually all kitchens contain a jar of thyme for yummy, savory flavoring; but this herb has also been a major part of medicinal history. Thymus vulgaris, containing powerfully antiseptic thymol volatile oil, is also well-known as a great expectorant and is used in COUGH and SORE THROAT medicines. Just two teaspoons of Thyme leaves steeped for 10 minutes in a cup of boiled water.

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Written about since ancient times, Thyme is a wild, pretty little plant and has been used for all kinds of ailments. It needs WELL-DRAINED SOIL and CONSISTENT WATERING—however, it doesn’t like to be too moist for too long. To keep it from getting ratty-looking, or from ‘walking away’ from its pot, TRIM IT REGULARLY. If everyone’s staying healthy, just dry the leaves and store them for use in your favorite French culinary dish.

Lastly, for the slightly more ADVANCED medicinal/culinary herb grower, is Illicium verum, aka STAR ANISE. This fragrant, smallish evergreen tree, originally from SOUTHEAST ASIA, bears a fruit that has REMARKABLE MEDICINAL PROPERTIES, but is also beloved as an ASIAN COOKING SPICE. Once having been classified in the Magnolia family, Illicium verum’s pre-ripe fruit is commercially harvested for its Shikimic acid, which is the main ingredient used in the flu medicine, Tamiflu.

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Not only does the spice TASTE GREAT in food and LOOK GORGEOUS as decoration, but also makes a GREAT TEA! Again, the minute you’re sensing the flu or cold coming on, take a couple of your dried star anise, make a tea and sip comfortably. If space in your GREENHOUSE is limited, it’s also possible to buy bags of the whole spice at Asian grocers. Should you be enticed to grow the tree, be very sure that you’re getting the exact species Illicium verum, as there is a separate Japanese species which is toxic.  Being a ZONE 8 PLANT, it should do just fine in a more NORTHERNLY GREENHOUSE, again with consistent watering and regular feeding.

 

Happy Holidays to all from Dea Schofield and Tanglewood!

Don’t forget to get that Aloe vera for the hectic cooks out there!

Conservatory or Greenhouse – how can you tell?

Posted November 6th, 2015 by Nicole Mihalos and filed in Greenhouses
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Which would YOU rather have; a CONSERVATORY or a GREENHOUSE?

Before YOU decide, let us tell you a story…

DID YOU KNOW greenhouses can be dated back to the ROMAN EMPIRE? Legend says that ROMAN EMPEROR TIBERIUS was told by his physicians that eating a cucumber once a day would improve overall health. So WHAT DID HE DO? He had a PROTO-GREENHOUSE built so his gardeners could GROW cucumbers YEAR ROUND!

Wait, isn’t that what CONSERVATORIES were used for?

PicMonkey_GH&Cons.

YES! A GREENHOUSE IS A CONSERVATORY!

By definition, conservatory means “TO CONSERVE PLANTS”. In the 19th century conservatories were often referred to as ORANGERIES because they housed ORANGE TREES and other TROPICAL FRUITS, just like GREENHOUSES! Scientists were LARGE BENEFACTORS of both conservatories and greenhouses because they allowed them to harvest and cultivate PLANT SPECIMENS in search of MEDICINAL BENEFITS. Soon, conservatories and greenhouses became STATUS SYMBOLS, breaking away from just being used for growing plants.

Versailles            Palace in Versailles      

CONSERVATORY or GREENHOUSE – What’s the DIFFERENCE?

French Monarch LOUIS XIV also shared a love of greenhouses! He built the first greenhouse at his PALACE IN VERSAILLES during the 17th century. He used his greenhouse to HOUSE ORANGE TREES and various other popular fruits. It was he who perhaps started the craze for ORANGERIES.

Greenhouses became very POPULAR during the 19th century in ENGLAND. During this time, the ADVANCEMENT of MANUFACTURING allowed large quantities of glass to easily be made and thus, facilitated a BOOM in GREENHOUSE and CONSERVATORY building. Within a few years, the beautiful PALM HOUSE at KEW GARDENS was built! This elegant VICTORIAN STYLE greenhouse was the FIRST TIME engineers used WROUGHT IRON in large volumes WITHOUT SUPPORTING COLUMNS.

uk The Kew Gardens    

So, can YOU tell the DIFFERENCE now?

Greenhouses and conservatories can EASILY be CONFUSED with one another. Historically, GREENHOUSES WERE CALLED CONSERVATORIES, as there was limited distinction between the two. But, in the late 19th century, CONSERVATORIES TRANSFORMED from being places for plants, to places for humans – and what GREAT SPACES they became!

So, which would YOU rather have?