A greenhouse is a feat of engineering, trapping the heat of the sun to allow more exotic species of plants and flowers to be grown inside, and to extend the flowering season of domestic species for fruit throughout the year.
So it should be no surprise that the traditional English greenhouse owes its origins to one of the greatest engineering civilisations in history. But we’re not talking about the Victorians; we’re talking about the Romans.
The first Roman greenhouse was created in about 30AD to grow vegetables for Emperor Tiberius. It consisted of a cart covered with a kind of plastic, more akin to a cold frame than to a modern greenhouse.
Nearly 2,000 years later, Victorian glasshouses brought this technology up to date, with peaked and arched roofs that offer maximum headroom, and greenhouses that have the highest possible surface area of glass to retain as much heat as the British sun can provide.
Let’s take a closer look at the legacy left by Victorian greenhouse design and why these are still some of the most popular blueprints for contemporary English greenhouses.
What is a Victorian style greenhouse?
Victorian glasshouse design is the iconic English greenhouse aesthetic. A high peaked roof for more headroom, large glazed elements (often all the way to ground level, although a partial brick wall is possible too) and a gable end door or porch entrance.
The Victorians were the true masters of English garden design, and just like the Romans, their engineering prowess gave us designs that are hard to beat, over 100 years later.
What are the benefits of buying a Victorian Glasshouse?
A Victorian-style greenhouse offers a long list of benefits. Here are just a few of the main ones.
Victorian glasshouse design means the interior is not just as hot as possible. It also allows you to keep a constant temperature by opening vents and windows, with the hottest air retained up in the high peaked roof.
Good warmth absorption
Large surface area of glass means the warmth of the sun penetrates easily into the greenhouse, but is not easily lost. This allows you to grow more exotic species like orchids, or just boost your crops of greenhouse staples like tomatoes.
More control over humidity
Control humidity using windows, vents and doors, spacing your plants around the greenhouse interior, and ensuring proper drainage from your pots and trays.
It will look impressive in your garden
Victorian greenhouse designs are iconic. Choose Victorian Villa glasshouses or The Westminster for a striking statement, or the glass-to-ground Victorian Chelsea greenhouse for an elegant and traditional look.
It is a great upgrade option
A large Victorian greenhouse is a real investment for your garden and Hartley Botanic Victorian glasshouses are built to last, creating a garden room that feels like a true extension of your home’s living space.
What size Victorian greenhouse should I choose?
Consider the space you have available in your garden and what size Victorian greenhouse you can reasonably accommodate.
Small Victorian greenhouse
A Victorian mini greenhouse gives you the aesthetic and plenty of growing space, without occupying too much area in a bijou garden.
Our Victorian Classic glasshouses are small Victorian greenhouses for compact to medium-sized gardens, with ample interiors to grow a good variety of plants, fruits and flowers.
Large Victorian greenhouse
What else to consider when choosing a Victorian greenhouse
Size is important but it’s not the only factor when choosing a Victorian greenhouse. Here are a few more things to keep in mind. For even more ideas, read our guide How to Choose a Greenhouse.
Try to align your greenhouse where it will get plenty of sunlight all day long and all year round, and you’ll maximise your growing opportunities.
A lean-to Victorian greenhouse attached to house walls can retain heat particularly well, as the bricks warm up in the daytime then release that warmth into the greenhouse interior overnight.
Greenhouse accessories you’ll need
We supply a range of Victorian greenhouse accessories to help your plants to thrive. Staging and shelving, including high-level shelving, allow you to make the most of the vertical space in your glasshouse.
Blinds and vents – including automatic vents – can keep the temperature and humidity under control, with grow lights and heaters to provide a boost when natural conditions are less than favourable.
What Victorian Glasshouses does Hartley Botanic have available?
Hartley Botanic Victorian greenhouses include many different designs with peaked and pyramid roofs, entrance porches, and decorative touches such as crestings and finials. You can see our full range of Victorian glasshouses here.