Monday, March 1, 2010

A Winter Garden

The wealthy Victorians and Edwardians had their winter gardens ( the one above is at the Biltmore House) -- steam-heated, glass roofed conservatories filled with palms and ferns and blooming flowers. One could relax in the moist heat, enjoy the comfortable wicker furniture, and wait for the butler to bring tea. Fragrant China tea in fragile porcelain, thin little sandwiches of cucumber or cress, crustless, and delicious, and a lovely cake or two -- perhaps a Victoria sponge and a lemon cake.  A little something to get one through the long winter afternoon.
My winter garden is on a more modest scale but still it provides refreshment. There are orchids and primroses on our dining table and it's a lovely place to sit on a cold morning -- especially if the sun is shining.

Alas, the butler seems to be on permanent vacation but I fix myself a big mug of coffee and enjoy the flowers.
Orchids are such show-offs. But they aren't particularly demanding -- these were birthday presents purchased at the local grocery store and suited to the meanest gardening intelligence. Their accompanying label tells you to water them by putting three ice cubes on them once a week. That's it. And they last and last -- six months sometimes. If you want to get all green thumb and actually fertilize them, they'll often bloom again.
Primroses are another grocery store treasure. So cheerful and when spring comes they can be planted outside. Unlike the orchids they require frequent watering but when that's all the garden you have, it's not so difficult.

Even a  modest winter garden can be a delight!
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Merisi said...

Such a delightful collection of cheery flowers, so beautifully captured!

I have primroses too, white and hot pink. They reside in a windowsill, between the inside and the outside casement (our apartment was built in 1905). They like the cooler temperature in there. I have also cut tulips there, from the farmers' market, they still look fresh after two weeks.

I was at the camera store on Saturday. My trusted photographer there urged me to get a D90. I had no idea what a behemoth my D80 is compared to yours. No chance, though, going back to school is already expensive enough. In fact, I hope my camera lasts a few more years.

Merisi said...

Sorry, the flowers sit on the window sill, and are not causing any trouble, not digging in or the like. ;-)

Word Veri:
Grande latte and macaroons for breakfast, anyone?

Poetry24 said...

Strange you should mention that your butler is on permanent vacation. So is ours!

The orchids and primroses are beautiful. You've caught them perfectly.

The sun is shining brightly here this morning and the frost is short-lived. Spring edges ever closer.

Pat in east TN said...

What a delightful spot to have your morning coffee ... beauty inside and out.

I have seen orchids at a local store but always shied away thinking they were too hard to care for ... guess I should be reading the labels! They're on my list for our next visit.

Pame Recetas said...


First of all I want to thank you for caring about what's going on here after the earthquake. Life goes on, it's not time to cry, just stand up and help the weaker. Don't believe all the news, chileans are great at disasters, we'll handle it.

And then, thank you SO much for your post bringing me such beautiful memories of long time gone winter gardens of my childhhood back in Patagonia, were every British subject would grow his/her own, buttler included!.

I lived three years in Costa Rica, were I had the most impressive orchid garden, but I must say I inherited it from the former owner of the house I rented.

Now I'm looking forward to my next garden in the house we're building in the country, which by the way, resisted all right the quake.

Big hug new friend,

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear that all is well with Pamela. The winter garden is beautiful. We have the first daffodils poking their heads out, but they may get a bit of snow tomorrow. Even in Atlanta it's not yet done; one year we had snow on April Fool's day when I lived in northwest Ga.

Lynne in GA

lichazul said...


Un abrazo de paz
muchas gracias por tus huellas
gracias por la solidaridad
y las buenas energías

Para ti mil bendiciones, ten un precioso día

desde Chile, elisa

Jean Baardsen said...

Relaxing is an art we've pretty much lost. Your view is beautiful! I've also never thought about raising an orchid.

Tess Kincaid said...

My nest is full of plants and fresh flowers, too. Wonderful macro shots, Vicki.

I was lucky enough to see the Biltmore about 15 years ago and would love to return.

Vicki Lane said...

Oh, Merisi -- your photography is so beautiful I can't think you need a change of camera -- unless, as you say, the D90 is easier in the hand. Perhaps a graduation reward? What are you studying in school?

Those cooler temperatures are the key to keeping flowers looking good, aren't they? Our house is kept rather cool and the dining area is coolest of all (except for a frigid back bedroom.)

Lateomac -- My first (American) thought would have been slow delivery of a Big Mac -- I like yours better!

Martin -- One simply cannot get good help these days!

Pat -- they're really easy -- they don't like dry heat though. Ours perk along nicely in the cool dining room. The thing is, they last in bloom so long that the investment is well-worth it.

So very nice to meet you, Pamela! I'm enjoying your blogs! Our news talks about how well Chile is handling the disaster -- I'm so glad my new friends are all safe.
I've been fascinated by Patagonia since reading the Bruce Chatwin book. Your pictures make me long to visit.

Good morning, Lynne -- Re this winter -- It's not over till it's over. We have a forecast of snow for the rest of the week.

Elisa - Muchas gracias por tu visita! Yo voy a visitar a tu blog immediatamente!

Really, Jean, give it a try. The orchids sold in grocery stores are tough!

Liz said...

I was given an orchid one year ago for my birthday. I had always thought they were difficult to raise. Mine had 13 blooms and I cut it back after all the blooms had fallen off (one inch above the wood)and it grew back with a vengeance - splitting into two stalks with seven flowers on each stalk. P.S. I hate to see icicles out your window!!

Vicki Lane said...

Willow -- the Biltmore House is such a treat -- especially is you can hit a day when it isn't jam-packed, (School groups are the worst.) In years past one could wander about and sometimes be the only one in a room, except for the guard. And the greenhouses! Especially at this time of year -- what a joy! I particularly enjoy the 'downstairs' part of the tour -- seeing what all it took to keep such a place running is pretty fascinating.

A real success story, Liz! (The icicles are gone just now but we have more snow coming tomorrow, so they say.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

I'm so glad I dropped by here today - it reminded me that I need to stop by the grocery store today and pick up some primroses!
Lovely, Vicki!

R. Burnett Baker said...

I'm closing on my first house the end of this month. I'll have a big window and you've given me a couple of ideas for plants/flowers to have there.....Thanks!!

Any other suggestions? My thumbs aren't particularly green.....


Miss_Yves said...

Everithing is delightful : your winter garden, the view, your photografs ...

Stella Jones said...

I love your winter garden. It looks especially wonderful when the sun is out, doesn't it. Your orchids reminded me of the display in Freshmarket when I was over there at Christmas. So many different colours, no wonder they are such a favourite with so many people. I love the Primroses too.
Blessings, Star

Vicki Lane said...

Highly recommended for the winter blahs, Kaye!

Rick -- it will depend on how much sun your window gets. Mine is east-facing so it's only part day, which suits these guys well. A south-facing window is good for graniums and things that like sun and heat.

North-facing -- ferns and African violets.

Read the labels on the potted plants; they'll tell you what grows where. And ask the plant seller. Also, be prepared for some losses till you find out what works where. Gardening, even indoors, is a Darwinian survival of the fittest affair.

Merci, Miss Yves!

Fresh Market has gorgeous orchids, Star. Lots of amazing varieties.

Brian Miller said...

they would sure brighten my day. wonderful pics.

The Muse said...

what a wonderful in the dreary winter...rays of sunshine in words. imagery in the post...glorious!

Vicki Lane said...

Welcome, Brian -- flowers are good for the soul.

And The Muse -- so that's where've you been! Don't you know I need you at my side, handing out inspiration -- not off running blogs! ;-)

Vagabonde said...

You do have a delightful winter garden. I kept at least a dozen African Violets on a bookshelf at work, it was cool there, but since I brought them back to my house, they have not been happy. For my birthday which is on 26 March my mother always gave me a potted hyacinth. I have not had one since I left France and today at Trader Joe’s they had some. I bought a small pot with one which barely shows the bud so it won’t grow too fast and still be here for the 26, hopefully.

Tipper said...

I love your winter garden-so bright and cheery. I'm looking forward to seeing my primrose bloom in the garden-surely it can't be long : )