Victorian Winter Garden restored
The Avery Hill Winter Garden, first built in 1890 by ‘Colonel’ John Thomas North, is at the heart of Greenwich University. The university was advised by Weddle Landscape Design, which is responsible for the Sheffield Winter Garden.
Weddle was asked for advice on how to create a cool, temperate house that could grow exotic plants from the Southern Hemisphere but with low energy requirements.
The first phase concentrated on Chilean plants; Colonel North was known as the Chilean Nitrate King in recognition of his export of nitrates for fertiliser from Chile back to England. This will be available for viewing from 16 August.
The three-domed Winter Garden of Mansion House was created when Colonel North wanted his family to enjoy exercise in inclement weather. After his death, London County Council bought the building and turned it into an educational establishment, ultimately becoming part of University of Greenwich. The building suffered wartime bomb damage and the heating system struggled to provide tropical heat for the exotic plants in an increasingly leaky old building. The Winter Gardens were opened to the public in 1962, but parts had to be closed when the building became unsafe. The rising costs of maintenance, particularly heating, have escalated.
The first phase of planting has been carried out by Tendercare to Weddle’s design. Principal Mike Browell said: “We’re very proud to have helped restore this beautiful Victorian glasshouse to its former glory.”
The University aims to complete the next two phases in time for the London 2012 Olympics.