Bring a taste of the tropics to your home with a bespoke conservatory

A conservatory enables you to create a microclimate that’s ideal for non-native plants – perfect for creating your own mini Eden Project.

Consisting of two enormous biomes, the Eden Project is Britain’s most extraordinary conservatory, and one of the biggest and most impressive conservatories in the world. The temperature and humidity-controlled domes create a suitable atmosphere for non-native plants, and the Project is home to over 1000 species of plant, including many that are normally only found in rain forests.

The scale and ambition of the Eden Project is truly staggering. Constructed in 1995, the site covers an area of 35 football pitches, and its construction used over 230 miles of scaffolding.

If you’d like to introduce some tropical plant life into your home, you don’t quite need to go to these lengths! A conservatory enables you to create a microclimate that enables you to grow plants that would not normally survive the British weather, and with one of our bespoke conservatories you can create your own mini Eden Project.

Plants

When creating your mini Eden Project, one the main things you need to consider is what plants you want to include. A conservatory gives you lots of flexibility when it comes to selecting specific plants to include – you could go for a selection of tropical and sub-tropical blooms, or maybe you’d prefer a display of cacti or succulents, the options are endless. The plants you choose will impact on other aspects of the conservatory, such as layout and location, so this decision should be made at the early design stage of the project.

Location

In order to get the best environment for your indoor garden, you need to think carefully about the location and positioning of your conservatory. A south-facing aspect will of course offer year-round sun and plenty of light, but the glass will magnify the sun’s rays, creating a hot, dry atmosphere that could be detrimental to your plants and uncomfortable for you and your family. If possible, consider positioning your conservatory with a different aspect or, if it is south-facing, invest in blinds or solar-controlled glass to minimise the glare on hot days.

Design

When designing your conservatory you need to think carefully about how it will be used. Will it be solely for plants? How many plants will you have and what accessories are needed? Do you also want space for socialising or relaxing? What furniture will you require? These decisions will help you to determine the proportions and layout of conservatory. Practicalities such as flooring and glazing also need to be considered at this stage. For an indoor garden, it’s essential to use flooring materials that can withstand spillages and leaks – you could even continue your exterior paving into the conservatory for a practical solution that brings together the external and internal areas of your home.

Heating

The temperature of your conservatory is key to ensuring that your garden thrives, and this comes down the types of plants you wish to grow. For tropical plants such as palms and ficus, your conservatory will need to be kept at around 15-21C all year round. At the other end of the spectrum, an unheated conservatory is the ideal environment for creating a fragrant winter garden of overwintering citrus and borderline-hardy plants such as Jasminum polyanthum and even pomegranates and aspidistra. For the greatest selection of plants, maintain a minimum winter temperature of 10C – perfect for flowering Mediterranean plants and succulents such as kalanchoes.

There are a number of ways to heat your conservatory, including fan, convection and underfloor. Don’t forget that many plants also need humidity and this can be achieved with a canopy of plant foliage, or by adding a pool to your indoor garden.

Although there some key things to take into consideration, emulating the Eden Project is not as daunting as it might sound. With clever conservatory design and some green fingers, you can create an impressive indoor garden in your very own home.

Photo by Herry Lawford, CC Licence.