The LuEsther T. Mertz Library
CITRUS AND ORANGERIES Despite the harsh winters of Northern Europe, resourceful and ingenious gardeners were able to develop protected environments amenable to the growth of tender and exotic plants. Although oranges were said to have reached Europe as early as the thirteenth century and were being raised outdoors in Italian Courts during the fifteenth century, it wasn’t until the last quarter of the seventeenth century that the Dutch enthusiasm for citrus had spread throughout Europe.

The Dutch excelled in citrus cultivation and worked to improve growing conditions and to provide methods of keeping the plants over the winter. Citrus trees could be planted in the ground and protection built around them or they could be planted in containers and carried indoors for the inhospitable winter months. Structures such as the stovehouse, fruit wall and orangery were developed for this purpose.

The orangery began as a temporary building structure with removable parts that was often placed over the trees when they were planted in the ground, but for aesthetic and economic reasons, the building soon evolved into a permanent structure. By incorporating windows on the southern side of the building, to maximize the amount of sunlight reaching the growing plants, and using advanced forms of heating such as the ‘stoove’ to replace an open fireplace, tender plants could be over-wintered with improved results.

In 1703, Hendryck van Oosten, the Leyden gardener, published The Dutch gardener: … in which he wrote an account of the nursing of lemon and orange trees in northern climates saying."there is not a Plant or Tree, that affords such extensive and lasting pleasure; for there is not a Day in the Year when Orange-Trees, may not, and indeed ought not, to afford matter of Delight: whether it be in the Greenness of their Leaves, or in the Agreeableness of their Form and Figure, or in the pleasant Scent of their Flowers, or in the Beauty and Duration of their Fruit."
 

"Winter-plaats in den Hoff van d Academie Tot Leyden"
Unsigned
Engraving
from Johannes Commelin (1629–1692)
Netherlandish Hesperides
Amsterdam: Marcus Doornik, 1676
The construction of the Dutch "wintering buildings", often-called "Dutch stoves" or orangeries was similar to the gallery at Leiden. As a permanent structure, the orangery began as simple long, narrow gallery that served as a protected covering. Often shown as a masonry structure, these houses have brick floors, solid back walls and high double casement windows.
 

[Frontispiece]

Unsigned
Engraving
from Johannes Commelin (1629–1692)
Netherlandish Hesperides
Amsterdam: Marcus Doornik, 1676

Although oranges were said to have reached Europe as early as the thirteenth century, it wasn’t until the last quarter of the seventeenth century that the Dutch enthusiasm for citrus had spread throughout Europe. The fervor of Dutch gardeners to provide evergreen orange and lemon trees in the seventeenth century is evident in this title page showing gardeners planting and potting citrus trees.
 
 

 
"Oranje-stoove"
unsigned
Engraving
from Jan van der Groen
Den Nederlandtsen hovenier, …
Amsterdam: Michiel Groot and Ghisbert de Groot, 1683
Oranges, lemons and other citrus presented a challenge for gardeners because of their need for warmth and the skill needed to carefully control their growing environment. This seventeenth century Dutch work illustrates the use of heating elements within the structure of the orangery and includes lists of rare and exotic plants available in the Netherlands in the seventeenth century along with sensible growing advice.

 

 
 
"Citrus Aurantium. L. b. fructus."
Ignaz Strenzl
Hand-colored lithograph
from Daniel Wagner (b. 1800)
Pharmaceutisch-medicinische Botanik,…
Vienna: F. Ullrich, 1828–[1830]
Citruses, which include orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, and citron are evergreen and are naturalized in warm climates. The Citrus aurantium is a sour orange and the peels can be candied. Oil of bergomat and neroli oil can be obtained from a variety of the sour orange and used in perfumery. The Portuguese introduced the sweet orange into Europe in the sixteenth century.

 
 
 
 

 
"Aloe Mucronato folio Americana major"
J.J. Haid
Color engraving
from Johann Wilhelm Weinmann (1683–1741)
Phytanthoza iconographia
Amsterdam: Zacharias Romberg, 1736–1748
An important source of new plants throughout Europe was from the Dutch colony at the Cape of Good Hope. Aloe, cape heaths, amaryllis and other plants were imported to Europe feeding the craze for the culture of exotics. Planted in tubs and decorative pots, they could be taken inside in winter and placed throughout the garden, in spring.

 
 

"Limon Cedrato 1699"
Johann Christoph Volkamer
Engraving
from Johann Christoph Volkamer (1644–1720)
Nurnbergische Hesperides
Nuremberg: J.C. Volkamer, 1708–1714
The plate depicted is the garden of Dr. Schobers, showing tubs and ornamental pots filled with aloe and citrus. During his youth, J.C. Volkamer spent many years in Italy visiting gardens and studying the infinite variety of citrus fruit. Volkamer’s book clearly replicated Giovanni Battista Ferrari’s earlier book Hesperides sive de malorum aureorum cultura et usu … , of 1646 but Volkamer added vignettes of Gardens to accompany his fruit drawings.

 

 
[Oleander]
Unsigned
Engraving
from Michael Friedrich Lochner (1662–1720)
Michaelis Friderici Lochneri … Nerium, sive, Rhododaphne veterum et recentiorum…
Nuremberg: J. Hoffmanni, 1716
Citrus trees as well as other exotic, rare or tender plants such as Oleander, were planted in tubs or decorative pots. Nerium oleander is native to the Mediterranean region and was the only kind of Oleander known in Europe until 1683 when Rheede Tot Drakenstein introduced in Holland a cultivated oleander from India.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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