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Friday, July 20, 2012

Didja Know? The Smoke Rise Green House

Didja Know? The Smoke Rise Green House
Here, from Cornie Hubner's marvelous "Didja Know?" series, an article about The Green House in Smoke Rise.

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The Green House located on the John Talbot Estate once provided, all year, fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables for "The Cottage," home of the Kinneys.  Designed by Lord and Bernamin, famous landscape architects, in 1904, it consisted of six, 500 ft. square, connected glass buildings heated by coal and wood burning furnaces. As a hobby of the younger Kinney, Morris, it soon enjoyed popular interest.

Supervised by an experienced English gardener (enticed from a Long Island Estate), each unit provided the required conditions for different, unusual and often exotic horticultural experiments. Neighbors were welcomed to marvel at the all year harvest of flowers, fruits and vegetables. It is possible that some local gardens still contain a hybrid phlox that Morris distributed when an experiment produced blooms that he did not like.

The Hot Houses of his many friends provided transplants that brought trees and bushes to early fruition. Figs, oranges, nectarines, grapes and berries were among the off season ripenings. Roses, orchids, lilies and among others a rare red flower, clivia, formed centers around which all kinds of cut flowers were grown. Vegetables were raised in two sections, augmenting the available supply during World War I. Annual flower plants were grown for early spring planting at the "Cottage" and transplants for the vegetable garden outside the Green House assured early crops of all vegetables.

At one time the stellar attraction was a fig tree reaching to the ceiling with lattice like branches spread over an entire wall. It was rumored that each of the 200 cuddled figs actually had names.  The was almost confirmed by the furor created when one fig disappeared. An intensive investigation exonerated all Estate employees when the mystery was solved by the confession of a delivery boy, unaware of the enormity of his crime.

Two generations of the Dumper Family occupied the apartment over the garage and supervised all seasons productivity until the mid '40s. A unique grape, grafted on local stock and the result of many trials rewarded the experimenters when it ripened during this time. It was the headliner of the Estate's many exhibits at important shows that attracted the interest of commercial and amateur growers.

The Ray Moody family took charge after World War II and continued with gradually reduced plantings until 1979.  Part of the capacity was used for several years, by a grower for raising Taxus seedlings. Many thousands were transplanted in nearby nurseries to protect the succulent needles, greatly enjoyed, for dessert by our always hungry herd of four legged friends.

One of the original sections is still operating and "Cotswold" is enjoying flowers and the many annuals that bring brilliance to the sunken gardens and sunkist lawn on the lake.

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Pretty wonderful, no?

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