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Winter Gardens; Now and Then

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Winter _Garden _1865

Spending lots of time in the Garden isn’t necessarily the thing that leaps to a lot of people’s minds when the winter months set in but just as in our previous post about great winter walks, we’re going to attempt to buck that trend!

History of the Winter Garden

Traditionally a “Winter Garden” isn’t simply a vegetable patch in December - the term began back in the 17th century when it became fashionable amongst the European nobility to build themselves large conservatories attached to their palaces to house tropical and sub-tropical plants all year round (the implication being that an English summer may as well be winter to a tropical plant!)

The introduction of the window tax (introduced in 1696) further increased the prestige of having a conservatory constructed, making them inhibitively expensive for all but the most wealthy members of society (A bit like personalised number plates).

By the end of the 1800’s the idea of Winter Gardens was soon hijacked by the great unwashed, the term becoming a popular name for seaside attractions which were built to look like the great conservatories of the nobility (the Window tax being repealed in 1851 probably had something to do with this too!) - one suspects the nobility, by this point, had found something else to compare each other against.

GY-Winter Gdn

The website buildingconservation.com has a superb article on the construction of Victorian and Edwardian Greenhouses and Cold frames which helped no end in the writing this post.

Modern winter gardens

Say “Winter Garden” today and, unsurprisingly, most of us would assume you’re talking about a garden (i.e. outside) in the winter months - which, if you type it in to Google, is what the majority of the inter-web thinks too.

The modern winter garden most usually is designed to produce food crops or be planted to be visually appealing throughout the winter months - unsurprisingly Bressingham is a great example of this, our Head Gardener Jaime Blake, carefully planning the planting to make our gardens a visual feast all year round.

Bressingham -gardens -in -winter

If you’re not lucky enough to live within easy distance of us a little searching on the net is bound to provide a few winter gardens in easy distance.

The National Trust has an excellent list of their properties possessing wonderful outdoor spaces that are great to visit in the winter all over the country.

If you want to widen the net a bit, we found a huge list of winter gardens to visit on greatbritishgardens.co.uk, featuring gardens to visit up and down the UK (including our own here at Bressingham!)

Is there anything we should’ve mentioned?

Do you have any thoughts, comments or views on the history of Winter Gardens in the UK?

Is there anything you think we should have mentioned?

If there is get in touch and let us know – you can also do it on Facebook or Twitter.


By Alastair Baker at 29 Dec 2017, 00:00 AM