A winter garden is a dream of each of us. A perfectly technically mastered winter garden can extend your house space, and at the same time, it gives you the possibility of year-round enjoyment and relaxation.

When considering the technical aspects of a winger garden, it is a glazed structure attached to the building. It is also defined as a largely or completely confined space which constitutes an interface between the interior and exterior.

A winter garden is a distinctive architectural element that will enrich the building exterior appearance by its unique construction, material, and colour design.

Development of winter gardens throughout history

The technical solution applying a combination of wood and glass is quite new, but the idea to protect plants from cold was created as early as in the 1st century AD. l. In this time, the Romans kept exotic fruits and vegetables in crates in the territories of their empire with a warm climate..

They were hiding their plants in caves to protect them from cold weather at night. It is also known that, in the gardens of the Emperor Tiberius, cucumbers were grown in seed-beds. However, all of these Roman methods of cultivation fell into oblivion in the Middle age.

The first botanical garden dates back to the 16th century when the ideas of plant protection were well known, and for this purpose, special constructions were built, the first of which was in Pisa in 1543 and later on, these constructions appeared in other parts of Europe.

In the 17th century Netherlands, orange orchards were placed in buildings made of brick, wood or stone, mostly with vertical windows with a metal frame facing the south. These structures were simple but evolved gradually. Later, arched windows were used in France and popular Baroque shapes were preferred in Germany. It was important to orientate the windows of all greenhouses to the south and to heat the greenhouses by metal furnaces on wood and peat. At the beginning of the 18th century Dr Hermann from the Netherlands designed a greenhouse with sloping glazed surfaces to allow more light to reach the orange orchards.

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Functions of modern residential winter gardens

  • A winter garden should meet four basic functions. The first to come is the aesthetic function, the purpose of which is to make our living space more attractive.
  • The second function to come is the residential function which improves the comfort of living in our house.
  • The third function is closely related to the second one and consists in the substantial extension of our living space.
  • And the fourth function? A winter garden brings us closer to nature. As it is made of wood emphasising the natural character of the space, the function of connecting the man with nature is fulfilled at its best.

Categorisation of winter gardens according to their purpose

  • Winter garden for plant growing - greenhouse

    A subtropical winter garden is considered to be the basic type of garden suitable for growing plants which normally grow freely in the subtropical zone. It is not intended to serve as a whole year people´s dwelling. During the winter season, the plants mostly hibernate, in the summer season, they are moved to balconies and terraces. The plants treated this way include acacia (Acacia), azaleas (Rhododendronsimsii), araucaria (Araucaria), bugenvilee (Bougainvillea), citrus (Citrus), ivy (Fatshedera), gardenia (Gardenia), gerbera (Gerbera), jasmine (Jasminum), olea oleander) and some bamboo species.

    The most impressive of all winter gardens is the year-round tropical winter garden. It can be used to grow e.g. Pineapples, Musa, Dracaena, Cordiyline, Ficus, Philodendron, Coffea, Croton, Columnea, Platycerium, Anthurium, Cyperus, Strelitzia and various types of palms, ferns, orchids, bromelia and carnivorous plants.

    A water winter garden is rare. Because of its high humidity it must be well separated from residential areas. The most suitable plants planted in these gardens include Ardisia crenata, Pistia stratiotes, Myriophyllum, Soleirolia, Hydrangea, Spathiphyllum or Dipteracanthus.
  • Winter garden as a unique energetic system

    Any winter garden uses the greenhouse effect and serves as a hot air collector, requiring a south-facing orientation, steep glazed areas, two-storey space, and a targeted airflow. On the ground of calculations and measurements in the houses with winter gardens, energy savings on heating costs were found to be from 7 to 40% compared to the same houses without a winter garden. However, it is necessary to assess the results of measurements regarding specific objects, conclusions thus cannot be drawn on general basis.

  • Winter garden as a living space

    The use of winter gardens exclusively for the purpose of plant growing and cultivating of exotic fruits or for the purpose of heat cumulation may seem to be a waste of money, especially if we consider our possibilities of importing exotic fruit from tropical and subtropical countries. Furthermore, it is possible to build energy saving and energetically passive buildings which can be built at affordable prices. A winter garden should be a full-value living space where you can eat, read, or just relax and spend time being surrounded by your family. Undoubtedly, when a winter garden includes plants and saves energy at the same time, most users are satisfied. Stable climatic conditions are an essential prerequisite for a winter garden of residential character. In other words, a winter garden should be possible for use on a hot summer day and in a cold winter evening.

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