This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
This is distinguished from a greenhouse more from its proximity to the dwelling than anything else, and is a place for the display of plants in flower, rather than for growing them. It therefore requires the aid of a greenhouse to keep up a succession of flowers. When of sufficient size, a few orange-trees, acacias, Camellias, azaleas, myrtles, etc, maybe planted in beds. Movable trellis should be provided for the display of flowering plants in pots. A greenhouse temperature is suitable. Such a house ought to communicate with the rooms in the dwelling, everything kept in the most perfect order with regard to cleanliness, and all necessary work performed early in the morning, in order not to disturb that enticing repose and seeming seclusion, which add so much to the enjoyment of these structures.
In this house the plants are generally planted out either in beds on the ground level, or artificially arranged mounds and rock or rustic work, with climbing vines suspended from the roof and upper parts. It may, in fact, be considered as a tropical forest in miniature, with the advantage of greater variety than would be found in any native locality, and the pleasure of seeing, at one view, the most beautiful vegetable productions of the warm regions of both hemispheres growing in their natural luxuriance. This house ought to be the grandest feature in any ornamental plant establishment, combining architectural nobleness, unity of appearance with the mansion, and intelligent arrangement in every detail; consequently, where the whole of this cannot be carried out, it is better to be content with structures of more practical utility.
This is the most interesting architectural feature of the place. It is a large stone building, with 16 long windows and a roof of glass. At the top of the building is an inscription in raised stone letters, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will." Readers will notice the transposition of the last few words, as compared with the Scripture, "on earth peace and good will to men." We suppose this was intentional by Mr. Shaw, to encourage good will among visitors "not to pluck the flowers"
The interior of the house was filled with greenhouse plants of usual assortment, the largest of which were Palms, some of them 40 feet high; the Wigandia carricassama, a lofty tree with wide palm leaves, and bending beneath the weight of cone-shaped purple flowers; a Japan plum tree, 25 feet high, with big leaves, bear clusters of fruit like crab apples; the Dragon Tree, from Africa; the India Rubber Tree; the delicate and magnificent Azaleas; the Eucalyptus; Fuchsias, nine feet high, with scarlet blossoms; the olive, and a huge collection of cacti, said to be the largest in the world. The conservatory is surrounded by a large number of others, not quite as high, but large, and these are filled in their season with an immense number of plants, propagated specially for removal to the flower garden.