Chloris of the Blooming Garden asked recently if I could show her inside my greenhouse – by which I assume she meant the new lean-to one round the corner of the house, where the chickens used to be. We have been calling this ‘Number 5’, to distinguish it from Numbers 2 and 4 which are the two joined-up greenhouses at the bottom of the garden, next to the cutting beds (numbers 1 and 3 no longer exist), but recently the Golfer suggested we call it The Coop, as a tribute to the last occupants of this part of the garden. As yet, this name doesn’t trip off the tongue in the way Number 5 has, but we shall see; in the meantime, whatever we call it, let’s open the door and pop in and have a look around.
The longer term intention is for this greenhouse to hold less hardy plants, but it will take time to expand my knowledge of the possibilities and build up a collection so I will be on a constant lookout for appropriate occupants. A good selection of winter and early spring flowering plants is something I particularly want to aim for, and although there is little in flower at the moment there is at least the promise of future flowers, especially from bulbs.
On the staging on the left are pots of narcissi, freesia and various muscari as well as a pretty little bulb I had never heard of before called Tecophilaea cyanocrocus violacea, which should flower in March. The cyclamen was a birthday present and the trailing rhodochiton is an experiment to see how it overwinters.
Under the staging are some early planted Lilium candidum and various hippeastrum/amaryllis crosses which came to me too late to make an impact in their flowering season this autumn, as well as pots of resting eucomis. To the right, the upper staging houses resting scented-leaved pelargoniums, cut back by half and their leaves stripped, as recommended by specialist supplier Fibrex. I am aware that it is possible to keep them flowering throughout the winter but I am taking the expert’s advice, and will make a note on the calendar to remind me to water them (and other resting bulbs) every fortnight. Below these are some sempervivum and sarracenia and a pot of Aeonium that has been outside for most of the year, along with Camellia ‘Yuletide’ and Salvia coccinea, both of which have come in for the winter.
Under this staging is my expanding collection of terracotta pots. Having decided to honour the upmarket nature of the greenhouse by exclusively using terracotta pots I have added to their number in the most economically way possible, surprisingly not by purchasing from car boot sales where their presence has proved to be scarce, but mostly from Wilkinsons (Wilkos), one of the ‘pound shops’ and Morrisons; the pile of deep pots came back with us from Morrisons on Anglesey, spotted reduced by half on our way to the ferry to Ireland and purchased on our return in case our local branch had sold out! Often the pots have cost less than the pot saucers which are harder to come by, but Wilkinsons’ are reasonable.
I am looking forward to some climbing blooms in spring as well, with pots of Tropaeolum tricolour and Hardenbergia violacea; I am not sure if the former might need a bigger pot so any advice would be helpful.
Still in the house are a number of hippeastrum, planted at intervals, and pots of hyacinths, which will be moved into The Coop at an appropriate time; knowing when to move from dark to light and cool to warm and maybe cool again is always a learning curve and although I intend to keep this greenhouse frost free it will always be a degree or two above Numbers 2 and 4 because of its closeness to the house. As we only installed the greenhouse in April the whole season is a voyage of discovery’ and one thing I have learned is that this side of the house is not as shady as I first thought, with the morning sun in summer peering over the top of the adjacent houses for a number of hours (less so of course in winter).
So that’s what’s happening round the corner in The Coop; like much of the December garden it is a place of anticipation, an important stop on my daily rambles, and I am pleased to have been able to welcome you there. Do come again!