It’s a growing trend: more and more gardeners are using a stylish orangery as a space for cultivating plants. As well as creating extra space and blurring the boundaries between the house and the garden, an orangery brings a whole new dimension to gardening.
An orangery is a perfect location to grow a wide range of exotic and tender plants. Orangeries first became fashionable in the 17th century, when wealthy people built them to house their collection of citrus trees. Today, the latest glass technology makes it easy to maintain a steady ambient temperature all year round and this provides the perfect environment for your plant collection.
An orangery or conservatory filled with lush greenery is a peaceful retreat for enjoying a cup of tea or glass of wine. But as well as providing structure, colour and scent, houseplants are good for us. They are excellent at removing pollutants from the air and according to the RHS, houseplants can improve our health and wellbeing by reducing stress levels and lifting our mood.
Caring for plants in an orangery
There are a few points to bear in mind when growing plants in your orangery.
• Good ventilation is the key to healthy plants. In the summer, simply opening a window or the door will allow the fresh air to circulate. When the orangery is heated during the winter, thermostatically controlled roof vents can be set to open when the temperature reaches a certain level.
• Few plants enjoy a dry atmosphere so create a humid microclimate by spraying the leaves with water. A miniature pool or water feature is another option, or stand plant pots and containers in a saucer filled with pebbles to improve moisture retention.
• Don't overwater your plants, especially in winter.
The best plants to choose
There’s a vast array of plants that thrive in an orangery but select them with care. Conservatories and orangeries are filled with light so don’t choose any that prefer a shady spot. Emulate the Victorian plant collectors and go for lush greenery with palm trees and magnificent ferns or create a stunning display with colourful orchids. Here are some more popular plants to grow:
With their glossy evergreen leaves, scented flowers and colourful fruits, it’s easy to see why citrus plants are a popular choice. Citrus madurensis, a variety of orange, will eventually grow into a small tree that bears fruit and flowers all year round. The Meyer lemon, a cross between the mandarin orange and the citron, loves the light so is a great choice for a sunny conservatory.
Plants for scent
Imagine dining by candlelight on a warm summer evening surrounded by fragrant flowering plants. Our top tips for scented plants include Stephanotis floribunda, an evergreen shrub with white flowers that open between late spring and early autumn. A good choice for an unheated orangery is Jasminum azoricum, a climber that is hardy down to 0°C. Don't forget scented flower bulbs such as hyacinths and narcissi. They’re easy to grow and provide both fragrance and colour.
Plants for colour
It’s easy to create a colourful display with a succession of flowering plants such as pelargoniums, lilies and Fuschia, changing the containers around with the seasons. But for more structure, climbing plants will create a stunning focal point.
• Bring a splash of colour to dull winter days with Mandevilla. This flowering vine boasts glossy, evergreen leaves and deep pink trumpet-shaped flowers. It’s a good choice for a large orangery. In the wild, Mandevilla can grow up to 30’. Pruning will keep it confined but it will still take up plenty of space.
• Bougainvillaea is another popular climbing plant for conservatories. Flowering throughout the summer in vibrant shades of pink, purple or orange, it creates a Mediterranean ambience.
• Plant the South African plumbago capensis in a rich John Innes compost for the best results, and it will reward you with swags of ravishing blue flowers.
Bespoke orangeries by Bergson & Eaton
At Bergson & Eaton, we are a long-established company with over 40 years’ experience in designing, manufacturing and installing bespoke orangeries and conservatories for customers in Aylesbury and across Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire. Most of our clients come to us through personal recommendation from satisfied customers. For more ideas and inspiration, view our gallery of completed projects. To find out more or to book a showroom visit, complete our contact form or call us on 01296 415251.