Conservatory or Greenhouse – how can you tell?

Posted November 6th, 2015 by Nicole Mihalos and filed in Greenhouses
Comments Off on Conservatory or Greenhouse – how can you tell?

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?



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      


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?

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