The Greenhouse


I have always hankered after one of those gorgeous Victorian style greenhouses which get advertised continually in The Garden and elsewhere. But as that lottery win still remains elusive this inherited, rather rickety, offering is going to have to do for now. ‘Closing the door’ is a compromise between leaving a gap at the bottom left or a gap at the top right. The roof leaks too. My stored seed trays fill up with water and if I am stupid enough to be inside it in a particularly heavy shower of rain most of the ingress ends up down the back of my neck.

In spite of the shortcomings, I use it to the full. At this time of year things are getting rather cramped. At the far end you can just make out a trio of patio plants, taking shelter from the cold: Callistemon, Olive and an ornamental bay tree on a corkscrew stem.


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Strelitzia reginae


A whole host of other plants are overwintering in the greenhouse too. Salvia, Chocolate Cosmos, Fuchsia and tender herbs like tarragon.

I first started growing Strelitzia, the Bird of Paradise plant, over 30 years ago with some seed brought home from a holiday abroad. Mike and my father teased me endlessly about those seeds, which have a bright orange hairy tuft. They declared them a joke and said they’d never work. Red flag to a bull, with the help of a humidity tent erected in my bedroom I managed to germinate eight! They grew fast. I potted them up periodically and looked forward to the exotic blooms which would come in year five. After ten years, still no flowers and I was down to four plants.  After fifteen years I discovered they really needed to be pot bound. I left them alone until the huge fleshy roots threatened a takeover bid. Twenty years after germination only one plant remained although it looked healthy enough. I was giving it the treat of a summer spent outdoors by then, in the prescribed dappled shade.

And then finally.. a month before we were due to move out of our last house, a flower spike started to grow. The bloom opened on the very same day the removal men turned up. They treated it like a priceless ming vase. It was ‘export wrapped’ and handled with kid gloves. My precious plant got loaded last and was anchored firmly to the side wall of the van. For the following three years it languished in the store room of our rented cottage on the farm, safe from the attentions of the resident geese but never really doing very well. By the time we moved into this house it was all but dead. The youngsters above are my second attempt, now two years old. They had better get a wriggle on this time!


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Paeonia mlokosewitschii


I haven’t tried that many ornamental plants from seed. They’ve tended to be the more challenging, in small numbers, rather than things I can plant out in drifts. Peony ‘Molly the Witch’ (above), Lilium martagon, and Magnolia (a dismal failure) to name but a few.


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Corn Salad Cavallo


We grew some salad leaves in old grobags over winter. These are the last left to harvest. The compost will then get tipped out on to the veggie beds and I can reclaim more space. Space which is sorely needed because:


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Tomato ‘Sungold’


The vegetable seed growing season is back in full swing. Tomatoes occupy the greenhouse during the summer, although I’m planning on using large pots rather than the grobags this year. I’ve room for six plants along the south facing wall, which I now have plus two spare. Chilli peppers and cucumbers are safely up too.


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Pea ‘Misty’


Peas and the first of the new season salad leaves are filling up the staging. And that’s just the start. Already it’s time for the next batch of sowing.

Where did I put my waterproof coat and hood?


Linking up with Helen’s Greenhouse Year at The Patient Gardener’s Weblog. Click through to find out what other gardeners are growing this month.