Woodward’s Graperies and Horticultural Buildings

Woodward’s Graperies and Horticultural Buildings

George E. Woodward
George E. Woodward

Author: Woodward, F. W. (Francis W.)
Woodward’s Graperies and Horticultural Buildings



Horticultural Buildings,





Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865, by
In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States,
for the Southern District of New York.


Introduction 7
Position of Houses 17
Forms of Houses 19
Heating by Flues 22
Heating by Steam 22
Heating by Tanks 27
Heating by Hot Water Pipes 33
Construction, &c. 35
Hot Beds 39
Cold Pit 44
Propagating Houses 46
Design No. 1.
Propagating House 54
Design No. 2.
Propagating House 57
Design No. 3.
Propagating House 61
Design No. 4.
Grapery and Forcing House 64
Design No. 5.
Green-House 68
Design No. 6.
Green-House and Grapery 70
Design No. 7.
Cold Grapery 73
Design No. 8.
Polyprosopic Roof 77
Design No. 9.
Green-House 81
Design No. 10.
Cold Grapery 85
Design No. 11.
Plant-House 90
Design No. 12.
Cold Graperies for City Lots 94
Design No. 13.
Grapery 98
Design No. 14.
Hot Grapery 102
Design No. 15.
Extensive range of Horticultural Buildings 105
Design No. 16.
Green-House 111
Design No. 17.
“Lean-to” Grapery 115
Design No. 18.
Green-House 119
Design No. 19.
Large Range of Horticultural Buildings 123
Design No. 20.
Green-House and Grapery combined 127
Orchard Houses 131


Graperies and Horticultural Buildings.


It is less than twenty-five years since the first cold Grapery was erected on the Hudson. Since the success of the culture of the delicious varieties of the exotic Grape has been demonstrated, the number of graperies has annually increased, and during the last ten years in a very rapid ratio, until they have become recognized as possible and desirable, among those even whose circumstances are moderate and limited. The newly-awakened interest in this branch of culture is manifested in the number and variety of books and other publications on this subject, the space devoted to it in the agricultural and horticultural journals, and especially in the increased number of graperies and vineyards which have been erected and planted in the last decade. There seems to be a general consciousness of the fact that, in the struggle for wealth and the greed for wide possessions, as well as in the inherent difficulties of our situation—thrown as we have been upon a new and vast continent—we have too long neglected the culture of the Vine, one of the most ancient and useful arts of life; an art which has, in all ages, been the fruitful source of comfort and luxury, of health and happiness, to the masses of mankind. The neglect of this important and beautiful department of culture is the more remarkable, since our country embraces every degree of latitude, and every variety of climate and soil in which the grape is known to flourish.
It having been demonstrated by years of experiment, resulting in every case in utter failure, that the foreign grape cannot be successfully grown in the open air in the United States—the States of the Pacific excepted—we are obliged to confine our culture to glazed structures, erected for the purpose, where an atmosphere similar to the vine-growing regions of Europe can be maintained, and that bane of the foreign grape, the mildew, avoided.
The culture of choice foreign grapes under glass in this country dates from before the War of Independence, from which time to this the beautiful but perishable Chasselas, the delicious Frontignac, and the luscious Hamburg, have been, here and there, carefully cultivated and ripened. But these efforts have been chiefly confined to the vicinity of large cities, and the management has mainly been kept in the hands of foreign gardeners, who have imported themselves from the vine regions of Europe, to instruct us in the arts and mysteries of grape-growing.
That many of these are men of great practical experience in the art, we know full well; but, however skillful they may have been in foreign countries, their success in our climate has been achieved only by discarding many of their preconceived ideas, and adapting their practice to agree with the peculiarities of our climate. When the public shall have learned that the culture of grapes under glass is only a plain and simple pursuit or pastime, which any one of ordinary capacity can comprehend and successfully carry out, then we shall have made a decided and important advance.
The American people are rather disposed to be self-reliant, and we may, therefore, safely predict that, when we take hold, in real earnest, of the business of grape culture, either under glass or in the open air, we shall do it with our customary determination and energy, and that success will just as surely follow as it has in other cases where imported ideas have been improved upon and superseded. We have shown, we think, in other fields of enterprise, that we may venture to rely upon native-born talent, ingenuity and industry, to work out this problem also, and that, by a practical demonstration, we shall, gradually and surely, reach a point of success beyond what has been attained with all the advantages of foreign aid. And this success will be equalled by the simplicity of its methods. Grape-growing in this country is yet in its infancy, and as respects the varieties best adapted to our soil and climate, essentially experimental. As yet it has attracted any considerable attention only of the more intelligent and far-seeing portion of our population, but it is surely beginning to command the regard and study of the larger number of our cultivators, and the inevitable result will be that, in a few years, it must be an important source of our country’s wealth.
The great obstacles among us to grape-growing under glass, especially to persons of moderate or limited means, are the first cost of building, planting, &c., and the necessity of regular and systematic care and attention to the vines which must be given, during a short season however, in order to insure success. To those who are influenced by the consideration of such obstacles as these, it may be said that, even in these times of high prices for all descriptions of labor and material—if we except, perhaps, brain-work and intellectual material—complete and substantial grape-houses can be erected at moderate cost, and with proper management they can be made a source of income and profit. As to the care and attention required, and the regularity of the periods at which they must be bestowed, at the risk of losing the crop, it can be easily demonstrated that these attentions and duties can be perfectly comprehended and understood by several members of the family, by the older children, and intelligent servants, so as to be overseen and performed by one or another in the absence of the person to whom the care is usually confided. Moreover, when one becomes interested in the management of a grapery, the employment gets to be too fascinating to allow of the thought of restricted action or irksome labor. It soon comes to be regarded as a delightful as well as healthful employment, whose duties are simple, and easily understood and performed.
The love of flowers is becoming quite a passion with many at the present day. This is indicated by the multiplication of nurserymen, and the rapid increase of their sales. Fifteen years ago the sales of flowering plants were confined to a few city Florists; now the trade has become so extensive, that large numbers are grown in our surrounding suburban towns, to meet the demand, which at particular seasons, as the Christmas and Easter holidays, for the decoration of our churches and other purposes, reaches proportions that would surprise the uninitiated. One cultivator has stated that during the fall of 1863 and winter of 1864 he cut and sent from his establishment, 230,000 blooms of the various flowers he cultivates, and he is but one of many engaged in the cultivation of flowers for the bouquet makers of New York. An extensive grower of pot plants, from information carefully gathered among his fellow nurserymen, estimates that the plant trade of the vicinity of New York reaches nearly the sum of $200,000 annually, and this for plants mainly employed as “bedding plants,” in the decoration of gardens and city yards, leaving entirely out of the question, those for winter culture at windows and in green houses, as well as the immense stock of the growers themselves to supply the demand for cut flowers. The growing taste for flowers may be observed in the constantly increasing demand for decorative purposes, in our churches, at public festivals, and private gatherings, and is especially apparent in the numerous depots for their sale on our principal thoroughfares. Much of this is due to the general diffusion of Horticultural literature, unveiling the mysteries of plant culture, and demonstrating the simplicity of the process.
Small green-houses or conservatories attached to dwellings are now frequently to be met with both in city and country: these are entered from some one of the principal rooms of the house, and are an attractive feature both within and without.
The pleasure derived from such a source is a constantly increasing one, which can only be estimated by those who may have the means for its gratification. But little time and attention is needed, which, with a proper acquaintance with the wants of the various plants, and some experience in their cultivation (knowledge easily and quickly acquired by those who have a genuine love for it), will enable us at any time during the winter season to enjoy our flowers, send a bouquet to a friend, or make use of them in adding to the attractions of home. Such glass structures would afford pleasure to the ladies of the family, in their moments of leisure, being of easy access from the dwelling, without the necessity of exposure to the outer air, which would prevent visits to larger buildings, remote from the house, and could be managed, with occasional assistance in potting and arrangement, wholly by them. Designs for houses of the above character will be found in the course of the work, as well as those adapted as isolated buildings, to grounds of moderate and large extent.
In the construction of Horticultural buildings, the matter of economy is an important and desirable consideration with many persons. But it should be understood that a common, low-priced structure is not the best economy, or the most desirable for a series of years. The dilapidated appearance that soon over-takes cheap, make-shift constructions, creates an impression that cannot be pleasing either to the spectator or the proprietor. It is an excellent rule, that what is worth doing at all, is worth doing well; and it is just as applicable to horticultural buildings as to any undertaking in life. Rough hemlock lumber, rudely put up and whitewashed, would be a cheap mode of construction, which might be tolerated on a merely commercial place, but would illy correspond with neatly-kept private grounds, however humble and unpretentious they might be. The plan selected may be devoid of mere ornament, which would increase the cost, without adding to the capacity or usefulness, but the proportions should be satisfactory, the arrangement convenient, the materials the very best of their kind, and the workmanship well and faithfully performed. Rough work, open joints, ill-fitting ventilators, ill-proportioned plans and forms, and a general tumble-down appearance, is not the kind of economy we should recommend to our readers or practice on our own place. One may choose between wood and masonry for the foundation walls; between the several grades and sizes of glass; between elaborate finish and ornament, and plain work; in the matter of the various modes of heating, &c.; but whatever is decided upon, let the plan and proportions be correct, and the materials and work of good, honest description.
In the various designs which we present our readers in this volume, nearly all of which have been erected under our superintendence, and are now in operation, the manner of construction can be judiciously economical, or it may be elaborated to the most substantial and ornamental structures of the class to which they belong. There is no more reason for making these buildings of a temporary character, than there is for putting up our barns and other outbuildings in a cheap and unworkmanlike manner. The enjoyment of a country place naturally depends very much on its neat and tasteful appearance, the completeness of all its appointments, the order and good taste of all its arrangements. And although we do not advocate extravagance, or needless cost in ornamentation, which would be unsuitable to the purpose for which these structures are designed, we think that true economy would indicate the use of the best materials and workmanship requisite for substantial and permanent buildings. Horticultural buildings are not intended for a few years’ use merely. Their profit, and the enjoyment they afford, will last for many years, and may be transmitted, with the other improvements of the country seat, as substantial and attractive appendages, indeed, as real property, worth all the money they cost, to the future proprietor.
There is still much to be learned in the matter of exotic grape-growing in this country, and, in fact, in the management of conservatories, orchard-houses, and all descriptions of horticultural buildings, and all classes of plants cultivated under glass. Whatever progress may have been made abroad, where experiments are carried on upon a large and costly scale, and often with eminent success, is of little or no value to the American horticulturist. Our climate is very different in its character and conditions from that of Europe, and especially that of humid England. We have, what they lack, real sunshine, with clear skies. Under the English methods of treatment, our graperies and green-houses would speedily be ruined. Nor are we willing to accept as final and conclusive the present best-known methods of vine culture. If there are better modes of managing exotic or native vines, and of developing the whole theory of grape culture, we shall be quite sure to find them out in the wide sweep of experiment which we are boldly and patiently undertaking in various parts of the country.
We do not propose, in our present work, to enter upon the investigation and discussion of the various theories of heat, light, color, radiation, &c., which properly belong to scientific treatises on these subjects. We intend to give only practical examples and results, from an extensive professional experience, with numerous designs and plans of buildings, most of which are now in successful operation, with the expectation that this volume will contribute not only to the general information of our horticulturists, and of gentlemen who are establishing themselves in the country, but also to create and encourage a taste for this kind of culture of exotic and delicate fruits, as well as the exquisite but tender gems of the floral world. When we find that we can command, at comparatively small cost of money and attention, the beautiful and luscious fruits of southern and tropical climes—their rarest and choicest flowers—the most delicious grapes, the finest peaches, nectarines, and apricots, the fig, and the pineapple, if we will; and that we can command these in abundance, to load and adorn our tables daily, the time cannot be distant when horticultural buildings, of various descriptions, will be found on all our country places or attached to our city homes.


For lean-to or single-roofed structures used as forcing-houses for grapes or other fruits or plants, a southern aspect is generally preferred. Our own preference would be a position facing South-East, on account of the advantage gained from the morning sun, which is so favorable to the health and growth of all descriptions of plants. Although an hour or two of the evening sun might be lost to a building in this position, yet the rays are then comparatively feeble, and this loss would be much more than compensated by the more genial morning light.
Cold Graperies, with span roofs, and glazed at both ends, are better placed North and South,—that is, with the ends facing these points,—as nearly as a due r

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