Conservatory Dreaming — Inspired by New Orleans
Since we have had no travels out of Ireland this year, we jumped at the chance of a pre-loved conservatory (described as an orangery or sun- room, apparently because it has a roof! We will stick with conservatory …) to give us a bigger dining area.
It is the second home project we have tackled during Covid-19, when home has become everything to us — especially a safe haven, which we appreciate more than ever. We have not been able to see family or friends and with few visitors coming regularly to our homes it’s a perfect time to make any changes which require living with a mess. A year ago we had not envisaged making these changes, but neither had we reckoned on being homebound for so long. We changed our central heating system which grew into a much bigger job as the new pellet burner did not fit in the same space as the wood-burning stove. A new chimney had to be installed which involved breaking walls etc., and we found ourselves having to do a full decorating job we had not planned.
The conservatory idea was somewhere in the future but the chance of getting one which was a perfect size etc., came up — and at a bargain price, so we have taken on the challenge!
One of the places we had cancelled visiting this year was New Orleans French Quarter, which is known for it’s beautiful courtyard gardens filled with exotic plants and old wrought iron furniture. Memories of our favourite restaurants are always centred around the greenery and the peace of these beautiful places. Although we don’t have the weather in Ireland for regular outside dining, and the exotic plants would not survive outside — this is the picture I have in my head for our new indoor space.
Given that it is all new, it may not end up looking exactly like the shabby-chic, French Quarter, long-established outdoor spaces, but hopefully there will be at least a few nods towards that idea and ambiance.
My plan is to recreate a New Orleans indoor courtyard with ivy trailing the walls, bringing a little corner of our favourite city to Ireland.
It’s good to have a new dream — especially during these unusual times! 💜🌾🌿🍀🌴🍂
At the point of writing, the conservatory is still only a dream! For various reasons it is a slow work in progress, with windows stacked by the shed and bits lying in the garden. It have decided to use the time to build up a collection of plants and objects to decorate it. I have gone back to my plant roots, digging out books I bought years ago on indoor plants and remembering old favourites from years ago.
When I was a student in Newcastle, I first noticed the plants around the college grounds and inside areas. I became friendly with one of the gardeners and he gave me a baby spider plant in a pot and a trailing plant called tradescantia . I looked after these for three years and when I graduated, carried them back to Scotland with me in a plastic bag!
When we had our first home, the large spider plant and tradescantia came with me and I added to them with a few others. Sadly, when we moved house to London, I had to give them away as the furniture was going into storage for several weeks.
I started collecting them again when I moved to Ireland, but when I was full time teaching, writing and busy looking after a family, a few died on me as I didn’t have time to look after them properly. Feeling guilty and a touch inadequate I again gave them to more diligent friends and didn’t buy any more for around ten years.
This last year I rescued a friend’s spider plant as she was overwhelmingly busy, like I had been so many time. I pruned the main plant and fed it, and I took home a few of the spiderettes and planted them, and within months they grew into beauties like my picture.
This renewed my interest in an old pleasure and hobby. Later, I bought a few easy care little succulents which also thrived, and a couple of taller yukka plants. I am now saving plants from the garden which will flourish indoors all year long like begonias and busy lizzie to add a bit of colour, and picking up a new plant each time I am shopping.
I also did a bit of studying on How to care for different plants, and How they enhance our wellbeing, and that will come in the next post! ….