Lisa Ishimuro's conservatory was planned as a haven for people and plants. "I wanted to use plants decoratively, exotically," she says. To evoke a garden, she tucked statuary amid the lushness and hung planters at different heights. Bypassing the usual porch wicker, Lisa found the old pair of Louis armchairs with worn gilding and recovered them in damask: The room's feminine-but-faded look evolved from them. "The gold armchair I picked up for $30 at a barn sale," she says, "and recovered it in silk."
"Anyone with a sunny window can have a touch of Eden in winter," says Lisa. "Mount glass shelves across the window you choose for your 'garden.' Hang plants from the ceiling then pull up a table and a comfortable chair."
Since Country Living last visited her c. 1800 farmhouse in Bucks County, Pa. (April 2001), she's added the 18- by 20-foot, south-facing sunroom wrapped in windows.
Pictured: A reading corner near the former back window holds Lisa's gardening books.
Primroses on Tole Tray
A stone floor with radiant heat keeps the room cozy; old hooked rugs and pillows warm the eye.
Pictured: On a tole tray, primroses shine by day, candles by evening.
Forced freesias, tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths elbow long-lived orchids and green plants, all potted and tended at a sink in the same room.
Pictured: Lisa's orchids include a Cattleya with a large magenta lip.
"At night, when friends are over, I light the room with candles. The effect is magical--especially when it snows."
"A surprise to me," says Lisa--"men love this room!"
Metal Sleigh Table
Odd bracket shelves and inexpensive urns add to the "gathered-over-time, rather than just-decorated, look I like," she says.
Pictured: All surfaces--including a metal sleigh table--entertain plants.
And there, while winter rages, glorious springtime welcomes Lisa home from her work with the Bucks County Conservation District.
Pictured: Old-time ornaments turn a display of forced spring flowers into a veritable garden.
Garden Tool Door Pulls
Growing orchids indoors is no harder than growing most plants. Lisa got her start by attending a local meeting of the American Orchid Society, orchidweb.org. One of her favorites is Phalaenopsis, whose blossoms can last for up to four months.
Plant tables and surfaces must be able to take a bit of punishment from water and soil crumbs. Lisa chose a range of metal-topped and tray tables for her indoor garden. Glass or stone surfaces are also great. "With plants, you can't get too fussy about furniture."
Pictured: A worn cupboard with garden-themed door pulls.
Seedlings in Pots
To enjoy spring flowers in midwinter, take the easy route and buy pre-chilled bulbs that are just sprouting. Daffodils and hyacinths are both fragrant and reliable. "When I'm craving spring, I confess I also buy some pots of colorful primroses," says Lisa.
Pictured: Seedlings for the summer garden.
A troughlike sandstone sink anchors Lisa's plant-tending corner, where mini-daffodils, muscari, and white tulips enjoy a soak. The corner also holds different soil mixes (orchids require their own growing medium) in old buckets, as well as Lisa's favorite bird prints. "When I entertain, the sink becomes a huge ice bucket for wine bottles," she says.