Heiress in Red Silk by Madeline Hunter

Photo by Echo Wang on Unsplash

Greenhouses, Conservatories, and House Plants 
Madeline HunterAuthor of Heiress in Red SilkA Duke’s Heiress Romance 

The methods for growing plants in unseasonable weather dates back to ancient times, but by the early nineteenth century, some important improvements had been made. One was the greenhouse, or glass house. An independent structure, it originally had upper walls and a ceiling of glass panes but lower walls of masonry. Because, in England, glass was taxed until the mid 1840s, the glass was used as sparingly as possible, and the panes were both small and thin. Once the tax was repealed, glass took over the entire structure, the panes held together with iron. 

All manner of plants flourished inside. Oranges were so popular that buildings called orangeries were devoted to them. Lemons and pineapples might be grown as well. Outofseason flowers would be cultivated and eventually go on sale at the flower market at Covent Garden and in other locales. Vegetables found a place, too. The commercial greenhouses provided a varied diet to the people of Great Britain during the months when their own outdoor gardens lay fallow.  

Creativity abounded. Some greenhouses grew grapes! The vine would be planted outside, up against the wall, then trained through a hole in the wall and held above with arbors or ropes. The actual grapes grew and ripened inside the greenhouse.  

Wealthy families attached similar structures to their homes. These came to be called conservatories, even though gardening specialists sometimes complained this was a misnomer. Their opinion was that a conservatory was a dark building where plants were kept dormant over winter to await the next growing season, or literally conserved. Despite this objection, the word conservatory came to mean a greenhouse structure attached to a house on one side, so people could pass into it without going outside. Conservatories were not used for growing fruits and vegetables, by and large, but more often just for greenery that served as a respite from the drab outdoors. 

Both kinds of growing spaces had two basic requirements: ventilation and heat. The first could be achieved easily by opening windows or sections of the ceiling. The latter was more complicated. Some heat remained in the packed ground after night fell, and the plants themselves gave off some heat. But in very cold climates, additional help was needed. It came in the form of either steam or hot water run through pipes in the ground or in simple stoves fired up to heat the space. Once stoves were invented that could run all night unattended, the necessity of feeding the stove disappeared.  

Greenhouses and conservatories grew ever more elaborate in the second half of the nineteenth century, popularizing the idea of indoor winter gardens. Families who did not have space or money for conservatories wanted their greenery, too. In the late Victorian period, the popularity of indoor plants took over. The vast British empire brought all kinds of tropical plants to the homeland, and the propagation of these plants for indoor decorating proliferated. Rare was the Victorian house without one or more houseplants. Books full of advice could be bought to guide the novice on just how to make the plants thrive, step by step. Especially popular was the flowering amaryllis, which became commonplace in the windows of homes throughout the United Kingdom.  

About the Author

Madeline Hunteris a New York Times bestselling author with more than six million copies of her books in print. She has thirty-one nationally bestselling historical romances in print, including, most recently, Never Deny a DukeA Devil of a Duke, and The Most Dangerous Duke in London. A member of RWA’s Honor Roll, she has won the RITA Award twice and has been a finalist seven times. Her books have appeared on the bestseller lists of The New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly, and have been translated into thirteen languages. She has a Ph.D. in art history, which she has taught at the university level. Madeline loves to hear from her readers and can be reached through her website, madelinehunter.comand on social media platforms Facebook and Twitter. 

About Heiress in Red Silk

In this sparkling series from New York Times bestselling author Madeline Hunter, a mysterious bequest brings a whole new life—and brand-new love—to three unsuspecting women … . 

In one life-changing windfall, Rosamund Jameson goes from struggling shopkeeper to heiress—and co-owner of a new business. Not only will her sudden fortune allow her to move her millinery shop to fashionable London, but Rosamund will be able to provide her younger sister with a proper entry into society. The only hitch for resourceful Rosamund is her arrogant, infuriatingly handsome business partner. 

Kevin Radnor is shocked that his late uncle, the Duke of Hollinburgh, bequeathed half his company to a total stranger—worse, a beguiling beauty who can only hinder his enterprise. But Rosamund insists on an active, equal partnership, so Kevin embarks on a plan: a seduction that will lead to a marriage of convenience, giving Rosamund the social status she needs and guaranteeing him the silent partner he desires. Yet, as this charismatic gentleman sets his flirtation in motion, he begins to wonder who is seducing whom—and if he can learn to share himself, body and mind, without losing his heart.   


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