History of Greenhouses

A lot of countries take advantage of greenhouse gardening these days because there are online stores that sell greenhouse kits as well as people offering services to build larger or more complicated greenhouses.

Greenhouse with plants

But a couple of centuries back, there was no real way to lift the limitations in growing certain types of plants for extended time periods.

There were certainly some smart individuals and architects during the medieval ages but greenhouses didn’t really surface simply because modern transparent materials like glass or plastic simply didn’t exist. Back in 30 A.D., the Roman emperor was fond of this particular vegetable that resembles a cucumber and wanted to eat it every single day of the year. The Romans had no choice but to find a way to grow this vegetable in a more climate controlled environment.

Fortunately, the Romans were able to make use of a rock material called mica, which has similar translucent properties. These people had the right idea that these materials can trap the air for warmth while allowing sunlight to pass through. This led to the early concept of the greenhouse but they did not build the structure very well at first.

Rock material, mica. (Photo Credit : wikipedia.org)

Fast forward to the 13th century and the Italians picked up where the Romans left off. Their design of a greenhouse was a bit better and it managed to help people cultivate tropical plants so explorers can travel with them. The practice of building greenhouses started to spread across Europe but the design was still nowhere as perfect as the greenhouses that you see today. One problem that people still had was maintaining the temperatures.

Bachman greenhouse. (Photo Credit : wikipedia.org)
Bachman greenhouse.
(Photo Credit : wikipedia.org)

It wasn’t until 1599 when someone finally built a structure that served as a good framework for the modern greenhouse. This time, a French botanist named Jules Charles set up a fully functional greenhouse and its main purpose was to grow plants for medicinal purposes. This greenhouse was set up in Leiden, which is located in The Netherlands. Other fellow Frenchmen grew fascinated with the convenience of greenhouses and that resulted to the construction of pineries and orangeries for growing pineapples and oranges respectively.

Weilburg Orangerie. (Photo Credit : wikipedia.org)
Weilburg Orangerie.
(Photo Credit : wikipedia.org)

During that time, it was just the materials that were the main bottleneck of building good greenhouses. That bottleneck was lifted when the construction technologies and glass quality were more advanced. With so many building possibilities, people started to pay more attention on the overall look of the greenhouses. The aristocracy wanted the greenhouses to have a similar level of design as other royal structures and the architects managed to pull it off by constructing a nice looking greenhouse for growing oranges near the Palace of Versailles. Some greenhouses that had the Victorian style were also built all over Europe during the 19th century.

Copenhagen Botanical garden DenmarkThere were still no American greenhouses though and that changed when Andrew Faneuil, who was a rich merchant at the time, constructed one. When other people around the United States saw how useful these structures were, more greenhouses were constructed. This caught the attention of President George Washington when he liked the idea of growing pineapples for his guests. A greenhouse was constructed at Mt. Vernon to fulfill his request.

Pres. George Washington's Greenhouse at Mount Vernon. (Photo Credit : American Garden History Blogspot)
Pres. George Washington’s Greenhouse at Mount Vernon.
(Photo Credit : American Garden History Blogspot)

Currently, there are lots of manufacturers that build greenhouses of various sizes ranging from the ones you can put on a table to ones that are much larger than football fields.

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Marion is an internet marketer and entrepreneur from the Philippines. He enjoys green living, gardening, friends and family life.

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