The Greenhouse is maintained very much the same way that it was in 1998 when Mrs. Alice Callaway passed away. It is divided into three sections, with different growing conditions in each one. Built in 1949, the structure sits on the footprint of the original greenhouse built for Ida in 1916.
Section 1: This section is less shaded than the center one, and houses part of the orchid collection. You’ll also see fancy-leaved begonias, jade plants, and more ferns, many of them favorites of Alice’s. Note staghorn ferns, some of which are humorously mounted on the greenhouse wall as a stag’s head would be. One corner of this section has sand in the bench for rooting cuttings and is where Alice rooted many things that she propagated for the garden and for sharing with others. She loved sharing cut flowers and plant cuttings. If a visitor admired a particular plant, she would often give them a piece of it.
Center Section (or Section 2): This section is a heavily shaded conservatory with a pool and fountain. The pool provides humidity for the plants as well as being aesthetically pleasing for visitors. In this section, you will see much of Alice’s fern collection, including maidenhair and Polypodium (or “footed”) ferns, which thrive here. The peace lilies that are at each of the four corners are divisions of those Alice Callaway grew. Hal Hentz, one of the original designers of the Callaway home, gifted Alice her first peace lily, which was a ‘Mauna Loa’. Other favorites of hers in this room are variegated impatiens, pink anthuriums, and Clivia. Alice brought her first pink anthurium back from Hawaii. Though she liked all colors of plants, she gravitated toward pink, salmon, and white. The variegated impatiens are propagated from cuttings of Alice’s impatiens.
Section 3: This section was once used by Alice to grow cut flowers for the house and, even now, in the bed on the Herb Garden side calla lilies, which both Ida and Alice grew for cut flowers, are still cultivated today. In the greenhouse, the calla lily’s growing cycle begins in early fall and continues through late spring, allowing for cutting blooms during winter and early spring. After remaining dormant in situ in the bed all summer, they are dug, divided, and replanted in our own compost in September each year. Interestingly, Alice said there were no more tubers of this variety of calla purchased after Ida died in 1936. Tubers have been divided each year since, providing enough for the next crop. Thus the flowers that are produced here now have their origins in Ida’s calla lilies. In 2014, a portion of the center bed was retrofitted to grow snapdragons and other cool season annuals in the winter, as Alice did decades ago, to also cut for floral arrangements for the home. Also in this section are more of the orchid collection and several large jade plants.
This video is from Alice Hand Callaway’s 1994 recorded interview. During this portion, she discusses the early 1980s hail storm damage to the Greenhouse.
Most are labeled but include many ferns (maidenhair [Adiantum], staghorn [Platycerum], bear’s paw, rabbit’s foot, and several other footed [Polypodium] ferns, Begonia cultivars, Bougainvillea, jade [Crassula], orchids [Cattleya, Phalaenopsis, Dendrobium, Cynbidium, Oncidium, etc.], giant calla [Zantedeschia aethiopica], and several jasmines [Jasminum] to name just a portion.