"Who loves a garden loves a greenhouse too" - William Cowper, 1731 -1800
Prompted by Helen over at 'The Patient Gardener Weblog' here is the first of what I hope will be a series of post about my greenhouse year. My present greenhouse came home with us after the Malvern Spring Gardening Show in 2009 - well to be more accurate a receipt for a deposit came home with us, whilst the greenhouse followed a few weeks later. It is the best gift ever that himself has given me. We did not go to the show with the intention of buying a greenhouse - in fact the thought of getting another greenhouse had not entered my head. I was quite happy with its predecessor which was a 6 feet by 8 feet second hand greenhouse and had served me well for years. However himself persuaded me that I should go for a bigger model. He pointed out to me that as I was no longer working that I would be spending more time in the greenhouse and would appreciate having more space to fill. How could I resist such logic? There was also the extra incentive of a special show price so it was a done deal by the end of the day.
My new 10 foot by 8 foot de luxe greenhouse remained in its packaging until September of that year but was up and ready for me to use the following spring. The staging (which was made using planed slate batons) and the heated sand bench from my original greenhouse fitted happily into this bigger space. Both these structures were lovingly crafted by himself who fortunately for me is a most practical man. The greenhouse is situated just a short hop,skip and jump away from the house so I can get out there easily whatever the weather is doing. It has two automatic windows as well as two that can be opened manually.The exercise bike that you can see in the photo below was just a temporary visitor ~
At the moment the greenhouse contains my collection of named snowdrops which are overwintering in a frost free zone. There is a small electric fan heater which comes on when the temperature dips below a certain level. Fortunately it has not seen much action this year although it had to work extra hard last year. The snowdrops are really taking too much room at the moment but I would like to leave them indoors for another couple of weeks, before letting them take their chance outside. I will start sowing seeds in earnest then although I plan to sow some broad beans, more sweet peas and beetroot before the end of February. For various reasons I am cutting down on seed sowing in the greenhouse this year, although I still have a feeling that I might eat my words yet.
Apart from the snowdrops there are presently a few other occupants in the greenhouse. Autumn sown sweet peas linger but will be turfed out soon to start toughening up. There are also other autumn sowings of orlaya grandiflora, a fluffy grass name of which escapes me for now and the half hardy nicotiana mutablis. I've overwintered a couple of mature plants of the latter hoping that they will be in flower in time for our garden club plant sale in May. If so I will be able to take a flowering specimen to help sell the babies. Also lurking on the sidelines are some penstemon cuttings that are ready for potting up. One is 'Sour Grapes' whilst the identity of the other remains a mystery, other than the fact that the flowers are very,very pink. Pots of dahlias are also resident along with a couple of lemon verbena plants. No sign of life from either yet but it's still to early.
I should also confess that I have a second greenhouse on my allotment plot.That was inherited along with its resident grapevine which I will reveal later in the year. It is just a mass of bare branches at the moment.
So that it is the state of play in my greenhouse towards the end of February. Next month a peek inside.