I think the Manse needs a conservatory, don’t you? And as luck would have it, we have just the room, ripe for transformation into a conservatory: the summer kitchen. Or back porch, as my family called it when I was growing up in this house. A period when that room (an add-on to the rear of the main built-in-1888 brick house) was used primarily for storage of garbage awaiting transport to the dump, tools, useful stuff that was out of season, and assorted junk that needed to be sorted through and probably tossed. (Come to think of it, that’s exactly what Raymond and I use it for now.)
I can’t remember the first time I was ever in a conservatory; it could well have been somewhere in England, in a country hotel, perhaps; or maybe in one of the fine and beautifully restored Victorian homes that Port Hope, Ont. (where I was a newspaper reporter and editor for many years), is known for. At any rate, I am quite sure I Ioved the idea of a conservatory long before I was ever in one. And once I’d been in one or two, I loved the idea even more.
I decided that before I looked up the official definition of what a conservatory is for this post, I’d write down my own take on it, to see how close I get. Here goes (and truly, I haven’t looked it up): a room, usually at the back or side of an older home, where glass makes up much of the walls and ceilings to let lots of light in; that opens out (though French doors, of course) onto lawns and gardens; and that frequently contains much greenery, since the sunlight from all those windows allows plants to flourish. Okay, let’s see what the internet has to say. Here’s the first definition that comes up: “A room with a glass roof and walls, attached to a house at one side and used as a greenhouse or a sun parlour.” Yay! Wikipedia pretty much concurs with that, and adds this interesting tidbit (though, it being Wikipedia, who knows if it’s true?): “Conservatories originated in the 16th century when wealthy landowners sought to cultivate citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges that began to appear on their dinner tables brought by traders from warmer regions of the Mediterranean.”
Right. So. I think the Manse needs a conservatory, even if Raymond and I aren’t necessarily wealthy landowners who will be cultivating citrus fruits there. And did I mention that we have just the room for the purpose?
But before we get to that, let’s feast our eyes on some more images of beautiful conservatories:
Ahhhh. I am dreaming. Swooning, actually.
Here is what we currently have to work with, the Manse’s summer kitchen. Brace yourself:
But come on, we all just need to use a little imagination! The back porch/summer kitchen has a interesting roof structure that could look cool atop a conservatory. We could replace the frame walls with a lot more windows, and make them floor to ceiling. Maybe we could even do something with the old chimney that you can see in one of the photos, and have a great fireplace in the room. And wouldn’t the rear brick wall of the main part of the house look great as the one non-windowed wall of our conservatory?
Of course, there’d also be the not-so-small matter of decorating it, with which I would most definitely need some help. (Somehow I don’t think we’ll have quite as much to spend on it as did the owners of the homes featured in my first photo gallery.)
And then there are the plants to cultivate and tend. Because, you know, if you’re going to have a light-flooded conservatory you’ve got to have some beautiful greenery in there. But making plants flourish (or even stay alive) is not my strong point.
Fortunately, help is probably close at hand. There are a lot of beautiful gardens and great gardeners in our area (including our next-door neighbours, Brian and Sylvia). Perhaps I can tap into some of that knowledge. Not sure about the citrus fruits, though…