The first orangery’s were built in Italy around the 16th century, purpose built for the intention of growing citrus throughout the year. It wasn’t until the later 18th and 19th century that orangery’s became a popular staple of European and British gardens, doing away with purely being a functional building, they now served an additional purpose of being a folly; a beautiful architectural sculpture in the landscape, a building with which much care was deliberated towards its design as well as the way it was used. Active heating was introduced in the form of fireplaces and stoves to keep the temperature inside at a certain degree, not only for the benefit of the usually tropical plants within but also as a warm abode of which to spend time in winter. Later and as such in the Melbourne Conservatory, underfloor heating was introduced to do away with the temperamental fireplaces and chimneys, this made it much easier to control the temperature of the soil itself further benefitting the plants and the space.
The conservatory at Fitzroy Gardens was constructed in the late 1920’s opening in March of 1930, and although officially named a conservatory, it is more of an orangery in both design and layout. It was a folly, not only to display the city’s horticultural exuberance, but a space in which the public could come through and visit with floral displays changing up to five times a year. The changing exhibits of plants within the Spanish Mission styled conservatory never go to waste each season that they’re rotated, they are all replanted or donated to community groups within the local area, ending up at schools, other gardens or becoming centre displays for roundabouts. With every season that comes and goes the ambiance exuded once stepping through the polished copper doors apprehends you into the soft greenery or perhaps sweeps you away into a fuchsia kaleidoscope of Hydrangea and Cyclamen season depending.