Leafing Through a Book or Two

The vogue for cultivating indoor plants and displaying them in a drawing room or other reception area rather than in a conservatory in the English home dates back several centuries, but having furniture built specifically for the purpose was unusual before the turn of the 18th to 19th centuries, becoming a considerable part of the decorating industry during the 1860's. Most common today is the single wooden box or tub on a three or four legged stand always associated with great-grandmother's aspidistra. These 'planters' were often made in a faux-Sheraton classical form, or later in the Japonnaise fashion.  But these all developed from the fine rosewood pedestals of the 1820's and 30's closely following the Greco-Roman patterns of George Smith, Thomas King and other leading designers of the day. Another innovative twist to the floral display piece was the dual or even three-purpose Jardinière.  While commonly associated with the late Victorian period there are prototypes which can be accurately dated as early as the late Georgian era. They were rectangular in form and were always made to stand in the centre of the room. One use was to display or hold equipment for needlework or a selection of books below a solid top.  Solid except that a panel could be removed to disclose a metal tray deep enough to contain ice as a wine cooler, or, of course a display of plants and flowers.  Smell the roses, choose a book, pour a drink and enjoy.