Tuesday, January 8, 2008

My Winter Garden

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

34 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Despite the drawbacks of your conservatory it is a dream come true to me. I can see why the cats love it there. I would too.

jodi said...

I too love the conservatory, and figure that the drawbacks are outweighed by the advantages. I'd love to have one, but for now will content myself with the large windows in most rooms in the house, and going into the (plastic covered) greenhouse on sunny winter days when I need a touch of spring. (nothing growing in there over winter, but a few things do hibernate in there, and it's just nice to feel the warmth of the sun.
The catchildren said they'd be picking at those screen doors whenever possible, trying to get them open. Mungus especially, being the escape artist that he is!

Robin (Bumblebee) said...

I adore you conservatory. I would hang out there with the Bliss team all day long! With all that light your plants look wonderfully healthy and happy. You can probably sprout your spring seedlings very successfully there as well. I would take it--despite the "drawbacks."

--Robin (Bumblebee)

Barbara said...

It is wonderful to have a conservatory for all the plants that need warm temperatures in winter. I haven't got any and therefore also my range of blooming plants is very poor during the cold winter months. Well, in a few months it will be Spring again ;) !!
Have a good time and enjoy your look in your beautiful garden!
Barbara

Pam/Digging said...

Your conservatory is very nice indeed. Our previous house had a sunroom, which is similar (lots of windows, and the room jutted into the garden) but lacks the see-through roof. Which in Austin's climate is probably a good thing. We really enjoyed those sunny mornings spent looking over the garden.

In my current house, I use the porch the same way, but it can get very hot in the summer. I'm sitting on the porch right now on this January morning, which is very comfortable. It reached 80 degrees yesterday afternoon, a record high for that date. Jeepers!

Hillside Garden said...

Dein Wintergarten ist wirklich wunderschön. Die Möbel sind auch ganz nach meinem GEschmack!

Sigrun

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Your conservatory is wonderful! I would happily take it, with all of it's drawbacks, too. :)

Naturegirl said...

Yolanda your conservatory is a dream of mine and I appreciate your tips at the end of this post on building one!
I shall wait until we built yet another house a bungalow..no second level and I then most likely add a room such as yours that we can enjoy all year round surrounded by plants.
I don't blame the Bliss team for using it a lot I would be in heaven if I were there! hugs NG xo

Frances said...

I can feel the sunshine through your pictures and prose and it feels wonderful. Even the purring of the cats can be heard!

Lis said...

Wenn ich einen Wintergarten hätte, müsste er so aussehen wie deiner! Er ist einfach klasse und die Möbel sind genau so wie ich sie liebe.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Hi all and welcome to Winter Bliss!

* Lisa: I dreamed of a conservatory for many years and am very happy that I have one now. The cats love it to bits when the sun is shining.

* Jodi: I love my conservatory but the drawbacks are perhaps more severe than you think. On average they make sure that we can't use the conservatory for 5 to 6 months of the year. During the winter months (half November until half February)it is too cold (there is central heating installed but we can't get the temperature higher than 16 C because of the poorly insulated roof) and during the Summer months (from June until August) it's too hot (between 35 and 45 C) for most of the day.
But, having said that, the conservatory is wonderful during a big part of the year when it's too cold or wet outside but it feels like Spring and it's nice and dry in the conservatory.
The Bliss team have tried to escape too, Surprise succeeded once in doing so but that's about it. The under-gardener has made the screen doors escape proof.

* Robin: Thanks! If it's not too cold or too hot in there we all hang out in the conservatory as it is such a wonderful place to be.

* Barbara: you are right, we are getting closer to Spring. Can't wait for it!!!

* Pam: how wonderful to be able to sit outside in January! My record is half February. I love porches and am very envious of everybody who's got one. ;-)

* Sigrun: Danke! Glad you liked it!

* Kim: of course I wouldn't want to do without it either! ;-)

* Anna: that roof in my conservatory is a pet peeve of mine. I trained as a interior designer and know that there are much better materials to use! I love my conservatory but find it annoying that I can only use it for half the year instead of all year round. So when you have your own built make sure that they use the right materials so that you can really enjoy it all year long. Wouldn't that be great? How you, Nature Boy and all your cats would love it.

* Frances: the purring is a constant factor here as we try to make our kittycats as happy as possible.

Brimstone said...

Ondanks de 'bouwfoutjes' is je serre fantastisch! Je hebt het ook heel smaakvol ingericht.

En het Blissteam past helemaal in deze omgeving.

Karin A said...

Now I'm a bit jealous! :D I'm dreaming of a conservatory and yours looks great. But I can imagine that the roof is a problem. We are hopefully building our own green house this summer and I've already started to think about the roof. Learning about others experiences is great.

Very nice interior as well as borders surrounding it! Thank you Yolanda for sharing.

Have a nice week!

Ewa said...

Dear Yolanda Elizabet, your conservatory is sooo beautiful! I deeply adore it. It looks adorable inside and outside as well.
South facing is problematic - I had once a large balcony covered with glass construction, it was facing south - I know how 'deeply' hot it can be.
As you know I consider to build a veranda/conservatory as well, but my location is facing south as well. I was looking for solutions - maybe planting from south side deciduous trees that grow maximum to 10m tall and give shadow could help? In the winter leafs are gone and sun can still warm conservatory :)
Greetings,

Layanee said...

YE: What a lovely space you have and charming despite the drawbacks! I will have to post on my 'conservatory' which serves as an office which leaves little space for plants. I need to clean it first though! LOL

JB's Big World said...

You have a beautiful winter garden and nice cats too! My mom visits her family in Holland pretty often...
--JB

Strawberry Lane said...

Well this is just about the most inviting place I have ever seen! And ... to make it even more perfect, there is a cat in almost every photo. How perfect!

Thanks for the treat!

Hanneles paradise said...

Lovely place.

stadtgarten said...

Dear Yolanda, your wintergarden looks very inviting, but I can imagine that it is not so in summer!
The furniture is beautiful, is it old or new?
I am glad that you liked the walk through my hometown.
Groetjes, Monika

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I love your conservatory! What a shame that it has the drawbacks. Fixing those would be a worthy project.

Having a conservatory/sun room is a dream of mine too, but I wouldn't want one where I live now. All those windows facing the playground would drive me nuts and would not be a relaxing place.

Betty said...

Yolanda,
All your plants as well as the felines look very happy and contented....As the saying goes, 'a half a pie is better than no pie at all......Betty

Carol said...

I have a sunroom, all windows, but a regular roof, and lament that it doesn't have any south facing windows, just west, east and north. So I get good light most of the time, and the temperature stays about the same as the house but... it's too small!

Your conservatory is very lovely, even with its issues. I'm sure over time you'll get them taken care of and figure out a better roof.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

CresceNet said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Libbys Blog said...

We have often talked about getting a conservatory, but........... ours would be totally southfacing and we would bake in the summer, so sadly it is not to be!!

kate said...

Your conservatory is beautiful - the views of the garden in summer time must be incredible.

I like the idea of being able to grow all sort of orchids, vines and citrus trees indoors.

The cats look wonderful in a circle eating. They must love it in the conservatory all year round!

Annie in Austin said...

As Pam/Digging has noted, in Austin many January days are pleasant for sitting on the patio or veranda. Since our patio and the breakfast room windows face South, that area is too hot for comfort in summer and I can sympathise with you on not being able to use your beautiful conservatory room in the hot months. It's a wonderful space.

Thanks for revealing this flaw in your fairytale Bliss-World, Yolanda! Knowing you are thwarted by a plastic roof helps with the envy factor ;-]

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Bert said...

HI Yolanda,

I think your conservatory looks great. And everything has disadvantages and is not always perfect.But you can get yourself light therapy in winter in your conservatory so you won't get depressed.

Bye,

Bert

Chigiy at Gardeners Anonymous said...

I really like your conservatory.
I have always toyed with the idea of a green house.
But I have enough projects right now.
Do you have a privacy hedge around your property?

Vierkatjes/lavendeltuin said...

Wij voelen natuurlijk niet hoe heet het kan zijn en we horen de regen niet kletteren op je pvc dak, maar het ziet er zó sfeervol uit, om jaloers op te worden!
Als je er makkelijk bij kunt komen zou je natuurlijk van die Xenos bamboe rolgordijntjes uit kunnen rollen, maarja dan moet je er wel bij kunnen ;-)
Voor dit soort "problemen" zou het leuk zijn om eens een leuke prijs in de staatsloterij te winnen hè, maar het zijn altijd nieten :-(
groeten, Marian

Birgit said...

Es sieht so einladen und schön aus bei Euch! Ganz mein Geschmack! Solch einen Wintergarten hätte auch ich gern. Alles harmoniert und passt einfach. Klasse.

Liebe Grüße, Birgit

Rosehaven Cottage said...

I have enjoyed the tour of your conservatory immensely! We've toyed with the idea of putting one on our home. Your tips are very valuable, thank you.

And, by the way, I've been to Seaside many times (it's about 1 1/2 hours drive south of us)! Beautiful town!

Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

Curtis said...

Looks like summer in there. At first the wall seemed to have small windows, wait those are mirrors :).

Jim/ArtofGardening said...

I'm jealous of your conservatory too.

Last week, I posted about a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed, newly-restored conservatory here in my hometown.

Between that, and your post, you've got me dreaming of my own conservatory. Alas, because of lack of space, it'll never happen. I'll just keep dragging the plants in every fall and pick up dead leaves throughout the house all winter.

Kylie W said...

Thanks for this post.....I enjoyed it!