After spending too much time inside with my little boys watching the snow pile up recently, I decided to take them to see the historic greenhouses at the Lyman Estate in Waltham Massachusetts.
Designed in 1793 for wealthy shipping merchant Theodore Lyman, the 37 acres of gardens, lawns and greenhouses offered a comfortable warm weather retreat from the family's primary residence in nearby Boston.
|We saw the impressive mansion, known as "The Vale", but it was really the historic greenhouses that we came to see.|
Begun in 1800, the greenhouses are amongst the oldest surviving greenhouses in the United States. The first structure to be built originally produced exotic delicacies for the family, including figs, pineapples, bananas and a variety of citrus fruits. Later this greenhouse became known as "the Grape House" and was planted with grapevines that still bear fruit today.
The warm and humid air felt welcoming after coming in from the cold outside. The front entrance leads you into the oldest part of the greenhouses, with the gnarled old Muscat and Black Hamburg vines visible in the upper right.
New and old blend beautifully as fresh blooms mingle with old bricks, stone, and other remnants of the past.
|Nice little artifacts have been retained and remind you how old the place is.|
|Miniature orange trees are a treat to see on a cold snowy day.|
|Beautiful fresh blossoms grow alongside the old grapevines.|
The old Grape House leads up to the Orchid House, which was built in 1840 and originally housed roses and other flowers to be used in the mansion. Today I think its most outstanding feature is the beautiful bougainvillea that arches above as you walk through...
|Some beautiful cacti and succulents now also call the Orchid House home.|
|Looking back through the bougainvillea to the Grape House.|
|A friendly smiling face in the Orchid House.|
|I loved seeing the old pipes and other rusty bits...|
Stairs from the Orchid House lead down to the Sales House, which was built in 1930 and is home to a variety of plants that are for sale. Also attached to the Orchid House is the Camellia House, which was built in 1820 and was originally used to grow peach trees.
|The century old camellias still bloom, putting on their display during the bleakest time of winter.|
|My little boy and his stuffed cat Hannah enjoyed exploring the old greenhouses.|
|I'm glad we visited in time to catch the last of the camellias blooming.|
Once my toddler started trying to throw and eat the rocks from the gravel footpath, I decided it was time to go. I would have loved to linger, but my boys were clearly at the end of their patience for indulging Mummy's love of pretty flowers and old things!
As we headed back out into the snow, I felt grateful for the short reprieve from this long New England winter. I took the sunny sky and birds twittering to be a promise that spring is not far away!