Martha's Conservatory Greenhouse

One of the most spectacular structures on Martha's property in Bedford, New York, is the conservatory greenhouse. It was designed by Allan Greenberg, the architect responsible for all of the renovations at Cantitoe Corners and the design of Martha's stables. The greenhouse was inspired by the Crystal Palace greenhouse of Hyde Park in London, England. Built in 1851 to house more than 14,000 vendors from around the world who attended that year's Great Exhibition, the structure was more than three times the size of St. Paul's Cathedral! It was destroyed by fire in 1936.

Martha and Allan were inspired by the symmetry and the layout of the Crystal Palace, and other Victorian greenhouse structures similar to it. While Martha's greenhouse is nowhere near the size of the Crystal Palace, it still occupies a nearly 3000 square-foot footprint - quite large for a residential greenhouse design.
It was essential that Martha have a large greenhouse at Cantitoe Corners to grow all of the specimens she was interested in: begonias and orchids of all kinds, lemon trees, ferns and numerous rare specimens of houseplants. Martha and her gardener, Ryan McCallister, use the greenhouse as both a laboratory and a showplace. It is a place to nurture young seedlings as well as display unusual plants that are not ideal for display inside a home, such as the Titan arum, or 'corpse flower', which smells of rotting flesh. (Martha has one!)

Below are photographs of Martha's conservatory greenhouse. (She also has a vegetable greenhouse and a tropical hoop house!) Now that the weather in the Northeast has turned cold and the skies have become a perpetual grey, I thought it would be nice to show a little green. There is a video of Martha touring the greenhouse at the bottom of the post.
This is the main entrance to the greenhouse from the main entrance road. The greenhouse is located at the south end of the property near the tenant house and Martha's main residence, the Winter House.
This aerial view of the greenhouse, taken with one of Martha's drones, shows the vast scale of the edifice. To the rear of the building is the gardener's head house, which is where Ryan McCallister works cultivating, re-potting and caring for all of the plants inside the greenhouse. Behind the greenhouse is the former vegetable garden, which is now Martha's cutting garden.
Here is a closer look at the head house. It is made from the same stone as the stables, quarried in Vermont.
In this more distant view, you can see the adjacent pergola that is used to hang some plants outdoors during the warmer days.
The former vegetable garden, which is now the cutting garden, is located next to the greenhouse.
Inside the greenhouse Martha grows hundreds of specimens of plants: begonias, orchids, succulents and ferns are among her favourites.
A fine gravel covers the aisles to absorb water.
So much green!
Extra pots are stored under some of the benches and everything is grouped by type of plant and displayed beautifully.
Ryan checks in on the plants.
Gorgeous tropical foliage in the sunlight.
Guy Wolff orchid pots in the head house, bottom right. Almost all of the ceramic pots at Martha's house are by ceramicist Guy Wolff.
Kept warm and out of winter's biting chill, Martha's plants have a happy home indeed! What a nice place to visit on those bleak winter days!

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