In step with the growth of our business, the demand for flowers and their rapid production, and the high quality now demanded, the science of building our greenhouse structures has kept well to the front. When we see the old dark structures of twenty-five years ago, with their heavy woodwork, 8x10 glass, and 4-inch cast iron pipe, we feel a chill, especially if we own them. We believe it would be almost impossible to produce the roses and carnations of today in the quantity and quality they are, had not our flower growers the modern houses of today.
Houses for the private establishment I shall not mention. They can be built with all the ornamentation as well as substantial and useful appointments that the owner desires, and should be always in keeping with the grounds and mansion with which they are associated. I will say this much: That whenever a range of glass is to be erected, let it be a costly and extensive range or but one small conservatory, it is far cheaper in the end and a hundred times more satisfactory, to have them built by horticultural builders, whose specialty it is, and who have made a life study of the business, constantly devising new and better methods, employing expert workmen, who know accurately every detail of the structure.
Building a greenhouse or conservatory is as distinct a business from the ordinary house building as is ship building, and the local carpenter, glazier and steam-fitter are the most unfit people to employ. I have had local painters put a piece of tin against the bar when painting the roof, "to keep the paint off of the glass," thereby entirely neglecting the one important place for paint, the space between the glass and wood occupied with putty. The local steam-fitter is learning something about steam, but his knowledge of hot water circulation is yet awfully crude, and the carpenter, who is perhaps capable of building a winding staircase, is a failure at greenhouse building unless you are able to tell him "just how you want it." So the amateur or man of wealth should always employ one of those firms who make a business of glass structures.
There are now many firms that make a specialty of greenhouse and conservatory architecture and construction, supplying everything from the foundations to benches, and not only the amateur, but the commercial florist had better let the contract to a reliable firm to erect his houses. If he undertakes it himself with his own help he is bound to neglect many things that need close attention. If of a mechanical turn with experience, and you are sure you will not neglect other things, then you can save considerable by buying the material and putting up the houses yourself.