A Winter Garden within Reach

Let it snow. With living herbs filling your home, summer’s flavors and scents are just a few steps away.

| October/November 2008

  • Indoor favorites include potted bay, snow rose and coffee (on chair).
    Rob Cardillo
  • Reader Becky Short showers her indoor garden with attention and frequent misting.
    Rob Cardillo
  • Potted pleasures: Before moving plants inside in October, Becky gently trims back foliage and inspects for insect pests. Clockwise from top: Prostrate rosemary, coffee and Cuban oregano await a final check before their move.
    Rob Cardillo

It began innocently. Like many gardeners, Herb Companion reader Becky Short couldn’t bear to part with the flavors and fragrances of her favorite herbs when frosts arrived at her Macungie, Pennsylvania, garden. After years of digging and potting rosemary, scented geraniums and other plants each fall, she decided to take the next step: Becky created a winter garden indoors—an entire room devoted to potted herbs, tropicals and other treasured plants.

“It’s my favorite place to be in winter,” Becky says. “Surrounded by the scents, green leaves and oxygen they release—it’s like being in the garden. I love it.”

Growing Under Glass

People have been building shelters for protecting, or conserving, plants in winter for centuries. Early conservatories sometimes were called “orangeries” because they often housed citrus and other tender fruits. At first, only British and French nobility enjoyed them, but in the 20th century, conservatory sunrooms became more affordable and popular. In contrast to a three-season patio sunroom, a conservatory sunroom is constructed for year-round use—generally with a separate heating and cooling system, glass walls and a glass roof.

Designed and built by British Conservatories in 2004, Becky’s 14-by-16-foot attached conservatory provides ideal indoor growing conditions. The room receives bright southern light and is completely covered with glass overhead. Temperatures range from 55 to 80 degrees. In summer, she opens the roof and side windows and runs a fan to keep daytime temperatures from rising too high; at night, when temperatures dip, wall heaters kick on to remove the chill. A brick floor allows generous, worry-free misting and watering.

A Taste of the Exotic

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