cover image Glass Houses

Glass Houses

Woods, Rizzoli, May Woods. Rizzoli International Publications, $50 (216pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-0906-6

The glass house (greenhouse, orangery, conservatory) is a unique incorporation of horticultural necessity into architecture. Woods (a British gardening enthusiast) and art historian Warren here document the history of the glass house from early construction attempts of the Renaissance to the present day. They tell of the demise of Nicholas Fouquet, who invited Louis XIV to a garden party: jealous of his chateau, the King promptly had Fouquet locked up. He died in jail in 1680. We also learn that Ludwig II of Bavaria had a secret indoor Kashmiri pavilioncomplete with lakes, waterfalls and a gilded boat. Aside from regaling the reader with horticultural trends and follies, such as the introduction of the pineapple to the British gentry, the authors discuss the technological advances in glass and gardening know-how that resulted in gardener-architect Joseph Paxton's triumph in the designing and speedy construction of London's Crystal Palace in 1851. They describe the geodesic dome and multiclimatic possibilities of the 20th century. Finally, there is a discourse on the resurgence of greenhouse popularity today. Sumptuous photos, early paintings and engravings marvelously illustrate the book. (July)