Dang, it’s getting chilly.

Yes, that’s what we’re all saying here in Middle America as a deep freeze sets in. It also happens to be what Italian orange tree cultivators said to one another back in the 1500′s round about November. Most of them were wealthy hobbyists who kept live citrus trees around for decorative purposes. Even the mild winters if Italy were too much for their delicate orange and lemon trees, until one day in 1545 some enterprising chaps over in Padua decided to put up a small heated structure solely for the purpose of keeping orange plants warm during the winter. They called it an “orangery” and before long everyone who was anyone in Europe was building one.

At first orangeries were simple wood huts where slow-burning fires were kept, but in time they evolved additional features — walking paths, small fountains, attractive statuary and windows — until by the middle 1700′s orangeries were quite magnificent structures indeed.

Of course by that time people were keeping a lot more than just oranges in them. As the Age of Discovery advanced and the trade in exotic ornamental trees, plants and flowers continued to grow, people kept all sorts of botanical oddities in them. Windows grew larger and larger until by the mid-1800′s orangeries were being made almost entirely of glass. That’s when some wisenheimer somewhere-or-other started calling them “green houses” and the magic of their name was lost forever. Oh well.

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6 Responses to Dang, it’s getting chilly.

  1. Yukiko says:

    Orangeries… Why did they have to change it?!? :) Otherwise, would we now have “the orangery effect” with all the CO2… :D

    • joepastry says:

      Which would sort of make it feel like the whole planet is turning into Florida. And let’s face it, that wouldn’t be all bad. I can’t get enough of the shrimp down there. On the other hand that would make the Magic the Earth’s official basketball team, and man, do they stink.

      - Joe

      • Roger says:

        I’d prefer the Magic being the Earth’s Official Basketball Team to the self-proclaimed ‘Americas Team’ in football (being a lifelong Philly fan, I cannot abide that term).

        • joepastry says:

          There’s a standing order in my family to commit me if I ever started rooting for the Cowboys. Thankfully they’re no good these days either. They’re playing the Bears tonight, but since they stink too, I don’t hold out much hope for a drubbing. Sigh.

          - Joe

  2. Hellyweg says:

    Fear not, the orangery is alive and well. Why, it was only last spring that my mother-and-step-father-in-law attended a dinner in honour of an esteemed colleague’s 90th, held in none other than an orangery.

    This has also prompted them to refer to their newly built conservatory as ‘the orangerie’, but that’s only fitting, since the patio is known as ‘the terrace’.

    • joepastry says:

      Ha! I like that. Glad to hear the tradition is being kept alive!

      Love your name, Hellyweg.

      - Jellyweg

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