Advert for Rosser & Russell greenhouses
Medium: Print on paper
The use of buildings to house and protect plants dates back at least to the Roman era but it was not until the 19th century that glass making processes became sophisticated enough, and glass itself so widespread, that people were able to make entire structures from it.
The Victorian era probably marked the summit of the British empire's reach and influence, and exotic plants were one of the most fashionable imports from the colonies to Britain. Greenhouses were thus ideal for tropical plants whose native habitats were naturally warm or dry. Very large public greenhouses were built during this era, most notably at Kew Gardens to the south-west of London, and many beautiful gardens were cultivated for visitors to walk around.