Gardens and Greenhouses
Conservatory and the Growing Houses
The Lord and Burnham greenhouse range was completed in 1913. Volcanic rock found on the property was utilized in the construction of the greenhouse foundation. The range anchors the Village square, which was distinguished by pollarded London planetrees. The complex included a large, central conservatory which was flanked by three growing houses. A passageway connected the Conservatory with the Head House. A separate, small greenhouse, called the Melon House, was located nearby. Hotbeds and heated cold frames near the greenhouses extended the capacity of the glass houses. Plants were grown for display as well as for sale. Irvin Disher, Sr. managed the greenhouse for over fifty years, beginning in the 1910s.
Early Years of the Formal Gardens
Louis L. Miller, partner in the firm of Buckenham and Miller, designed the gardens in 1913. Approximately four acres in size, they were placed alongside an existing road, NC State Highway 67, which was then known as the Elkin Highway and is now known as Reynolda Road.
The gardens were redesigned in 1917 and 1921 by landscape architect Thomas W. Sears, a 1906 graduate of the Lawrence Scientific School of Harvard University. Horticulturist Robert Conrad supervised care of the formal gardens for over fifty years, beginning in the 1910s.
The Sears plan for the sunken Greenhouse Gardens (1917) featured four theme gardens —the Pink and White Garden, the Blue and Yellow Garden, and two Greenhouse Rose Gardens; Japanese-style tea houses; pergolas; two fountains; perennial and shrub borders; specimen trees, and a central lawn.
Fruit, Cut Flower, and Nicer Vegetable Garden
The Sears plan (1921) divided into this section into beds and borders separated by post-and-rail fencing and crushed gravel walkways. Garden shelters continued the Japanese-style building theme. A Play House, landscaped with vines and flowering shrubs, was located on a knoll above this garden.
The 1930s through the 1970s
The Cut Flower and Nicer Vegetable Garden were used for scientific studies. Reynolda Florist closed in the 1960s. In the 1970s, display gardens were established within the original design footprint. Three of the growing houses were used to produce plants for the gardens and for sale. The Conservatory contained displays of exotic plants and a growing house, which had been altered to contain a plant species collection, was converted to a classroom, the Reynolda Gardens Greenhouse Education Wing, in the 1910s.
By the early 1990s, garden plantings had declined and the infrastructure had become unsafe. The Jaeger Company, a landscape architecture firm based in Gainesville, GA, directed a restoration of the gardens to the appearance of the Sears design and plantings. The construction and initial planting phase was completed in the summer of 1997. The restoration has received several awards.