or conservatory is a nice place to be for most of the year. It's the lightest room of the house and even on a dull and gloomy day as today, it's light and airy. I love being in my conservatory and so do all the members of the Bliss team.
Not forgetting all the plants that grow in the winter garden of course, they love it there too.
Some plants love it so much that they are slowly taken over the conservatory. Here's my passionflower climbing up the chandelier.
My conservatory is L-shaped and it is double glazed and has 8 top to bottom windows, two sets of glass sliding doors, central heating and hardly any stone walls.
So I have to make good use of what little wall space there is. My orchids love this shelve as they do very well there. I also have a few climbers on this shelve, a Jasmin and a blue Plumbago. It's simply wonderful when the Jasmin is in flower and its fragrance fills the conservatory.
As I said it's a great place to be for most of the year, but not all of it, unfortunately. That's because it is, for the most part, south facing, so it gets very hot, too hot during summer. I have made muslin drapes to cover all the panels in the ceiling and they keep some of the heat out. Now it gets to be "only" 45 degrees Celsius in the conservatory on a hot summer's day instead of 50 degrees C.
What also helps in keeping the temperature down on a hot day is opening both sets of sliding doors.
As you can see here the doors are screened to keep the cats in and the insects out. Naturally I can only have both doors open when I'm at home. When I've been away and come home again the conservatory feels like an oven on a sunny summer's day. Ugh!
When I bought the house, the conservatory was already there, so there was nothing for it but to accept its drawbacks. There is another design error there, even though this conservatory was designed by an architect; the roof is made of PVC.
Not a good thing because when it rains very hard the sound is deafening, literally. Also the PVC roof provides very poor insulation: in winter the warm air escapes through the roof ( there is central heating) and in summertime all the heat from the sun enters the conservatory via the PVC roof.
So a good solution would be to have the roof redone, this time with safety glass with a special coating that insulates very well; keeping the heat out during summer and the warmth in during winter. But it's a very expensive solution as there is a lot of roof that needs to be double glazed with this special safety glass.
I'm also thinking of having a few windows installed in the roof that open automatically when it gets too hot inside. I have windows like that in my Victorian greenhouse too and they are wonderful in keeping the temperature down. The windows have to be burglar proof of course, even when they are open.
Another drawback is that the PVC roof isn't see through, so at night I cannot see the stars from my conservatory. But for the most part I enjoy having a conservatory very much. I love it when I get up in the morning and walk into my conservatory and be greeted with this sight.
All those top to bottom windows allow me such a glorious view of the garden that, even when I'm inside, it feels and looks like I'm outside in the garden. And that's truly wonderful if you live in a climate like mine where it rains most of the year. This way I can still enjoy my garden and keep dry and comfy at the same time.
I've designed the south borders, that wrap themselves around my conservatory, in such a way that they provide a great view from inside the conservatory (minus the glare in the pic above).
This how the conservatory looked from the decked patio area last summer. I've started to paint the conservatory ochre yellow as I don't like that brown colour it has now. I haven't finished painting the outside yet but now it's too cold so it has to wait. Next Spring I will be painting both the rest of the outside and the inside of the conservatory. I'd like my conservatory to be white on the inside and ochre yellow & white on the outside.
To sum things up: a conservatory is wonderful to have but don't built one that is south facing and whatever else you do, don't have a PVC roof! Spend a bit more money and get a glass one, it will be cheaper in the long run and much more comfortable.
copyright 2008: Y.E.W. Heuzen