Catching Up in the Coop

I thought you might like to join me in the Coop today, to enjoy both the flowers and the fragrance that delight the senses at this time of year. The Coop is a 5 x 14 foot lean-to greenhouse, attached to the northeast facing wall of the extension to our house – not the sunniest aspect, but at least it is unlikely ever to overheat, and we installed it just about two years ago on the part of the garden previously occupied for many years by our chickens. It has been particularly useful for early spring flowers and tender perennials but I am still learning what can successfully be grown in it.

Pots of crocus and dwarf iris are now finished, but many other bulbs are coming into their own, like these narcissi (left to right, ‘Avalanche’, ‘Grand Soleil d’Or’, ‘Erlicheer’) :

Miniature narcissi (‘Canaliculatus’, bulbocodium ‘Conspicuous’, ‘Rip Van Winkle’):

Muscari (‘Valerie Finnis’, ‘Latifolium’, ‘Blue Magic’):

Hyacinths (‘Blue Star’ and ‘Carnegie’, ‘Miss Saigon’ is yet to bloom):

Some cyclamen given as a gift in September and still flowering:

A pot of Hepatica nobilis:

Brilliant blue Tecophilaea cyanocrocus violacea:

The first few flowers of Tropaeolum, still fairly insignificant at this stage:

Equally tiny blooms of Hardenbergia violacea:

Several Hippeastrum/amaryllis, taking their time in the relative coolness of the Coop:

Pretty primroses provide a further splash of colour, but are unlikely to survive for another year, and I don’t bother trying:

Most of the bulbs were planted in October but the hippeastrum were planted later, in early December; a little adjustment in planting times might be needed if I wanted to ensure more were flowering for our open day in mid February – but a colder winter could bring very different results anyway.

Also in the Coop are a number of fragrant leaved pelargonium which I shall start watering more regularly now, and feeding too. They were cut back by half in the autumn and defoliated but will soon freshen up with renewed attention. Under the staging are several more over wintering pots – eucomis, calla, aeonium, nerines and true amaryllis amongst them, most of which will respond quickly to watering when the time is right:

Even without the fragrant blooms the Coop has a distinct ‘glasshouse’ smell, unlike the working greenhouse at the other end of the garden, and the sound of the door as it slides open heralds a promising invitation: I hope you enjoyed your visit, a welcome diversion from the usual ramble round the garden.

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31 Responses to Catching Up in the Coop

  1. jenanita01 says:

    I often wish I had a greenhouse. Somewhere to potter when the weather isn’t ready for me yet!

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, they offer so much potential and now I could never have enough greenhouse space – that’s why I now have two, the Coop and the ‘working’ greenhouse

  2. Jennifer Tetlow Stone Sculpture says:

    Really did enjoy this and it has encouraged me no end to do more in my greenhouse, and actually extend it! Interested to hear about your fragrant leaved too – mine are in the house and have grown to the ceiling – perhaps should have cut back as you did.

    • Cathy says:

      Good to hear it, Jennifer – these days I feel I could never have enough greenhouse space! 😁 I followed the advice of Fibrex for the pelargoniums, the specialists I bought them from. They certainly recommend letting them rest over winter

  3. ruthsoaper says:

    That was a bit of a surprise – I thought I was going to see some chicken pictures. LOL. I really did enjoy seeing all the flowers. I love the Primrose. I have one growing in our prayer garden and it is starting to green up. It’s been struggling for several years though – mostly because the chickens like to scratch around it.

  4. Pauline says:

    Your coop must be a wonderful place to be, so many gorgeous perfumes! My red and blue primulas have survived years in the garden, they are more hardy than you might think!

    • Cathy says:

      That’a interesting to hear that your primulas survive – I used to try keeping them but they rarely did. Mind you the ones I have in pots outside have been untouched by weather and birds this year, about 2 months after I planted them up, which is also unusual

  5. Heyjude says:

    All my spring bulbs are out in the garden, except for the ‘Woodstock’ hyacinth which I brought inside as it was about to flower when the storms hit. I might follow your idea and have pots of narcissus inside next year, some of them have a lovely scent. My pelargoniums look quite dead, but maybe they’ll revive with some water and warmth.

    • Cathy says:

      Keeping the bulbs in the Coop instead of a warm house has slowed the growth and flowering process, but protects them from the weather. My pelargonium have really perked up in the last couple of weeks, responding to increased warmth, light and watering – and probably need repotting now, or at least fresh compost

  6. bcparkison says:

    I am surprised to see your amaryllis reaching for the sky too. Mine had to be staked and turned out to be a double with very heavy heads. Please don’t do away with the primroses…they are beautiful.

    • Cathy says:

      The amaryllis tend to be stronger and straighter than when I grew them in the house – but I think there is an associated risk of the bulbs rotting…

  7. Anna greentapestry says:

    Thanks for the invite Cathy. It looks so cosy and colourful. I can just imagine being in there with a cuppa and a slice of one of your delicious cakes. I must reduce the overwintering snowdrop collection in the greenhouse so I can dabble a bit more with other bulbs. I planted four pots of muscari ‘Valerie Finnis’ last autumn but they are all foliage and no flowers. Maybe I didn’t plant them deep enough? All my by bulb planting was done with the wrong hand or by himself πŸ˜‚

    • Cathy says:

      My potted muscari have all only recently started flowering, Anna, and Icwoukd have thought in their first year they would still flower even if planted too shallowly – best not to blame Himself in case you need his services again …😁

  8. Brian Skeys says:

    For the first time this winter I followed the advice and cut down my pelargoniums and de leaved them. I am encouraged by yours, mine has no growth, some looking positively dead. I gave them a liquid feed last week, here’s hoping.

    • Cathy says:

      I watered mine about once a month over winter then more often in the last few weeks – they are resprouting well now and I hope yours do too soon, Brian

  9. Beautiful! I love your greenhouse!!

  10. tonytomeo says:

    Bolivian nasturtium! I have not tried those yet. I tried blue nasturtium, but nothing came up.

  11. Chloris says:

    Oh lovely! So nice to have lots to enjoy inside at this time of the year. I love the blue of the Tecophilaea.

    • Cathy says:

      Still not a patch on yours, I am sure! Yes, the colour of the Tecophilaea is very different from anything else; this is its second year so I am peased it is thriving. I think there were 3 bulbs (corms?) to begin with, and I let them dry out over summer, as suggested, so I am pleased they are coming back on cue

  12. ldr13 says:

    Beautiful! I love the hyacinth. I think I may invest in a greenhouse very soon as it might keep me sane while I stay home these next 12 weeks or so. Unfortunately because we move every two years it’ll have to be a plastic one. Gardening is a very hard hobby to move around with you!

    • Cathy says:

      Gosh, moving every 2 years must make gardening restrictive – do you grow lots in pots, and take them with you?

      • ldr13 says:

        I do quite a bit in pots but we built a raised planter last summer 2 foot by 8 foot not realising how heavy it is when filled with soil so we have to empty it into 10 or 12 garbage bags each time we move. I may also go back and dig up some of my favourite flowers I planted in our garden… army life isn’t so conducive to gardening! One day when we finally settle somewhere it’s going to have to have a big yard and a proper green house πŸ™‚ Until then I will grow what I can and live vicariously through other people’s gardening blogs πŸ˜‰

        • Cathy says:

          How many more years till you are settled? Glad to hear that reading blogs helps in the meantime 😊

          • ldr13 says:

            We’re not sure how long he will stay in. It’s trying to weigh the benefits and the trade offs but I think well have a minimum of 1-2 more moves so maybe another 5 years or so but if he decides to do the full career then it may be 5 moves or more over the next 17 years…

          • Cathy says:

            Do you have a say in it…?!

          • ldr13 says:

            Of course but the grass isn’t always greener… because we have subsidised housing through the army our outgoings are very low and I think we might struggle to save money and visit home as much. He also worries about not having qualifications in civvie street as they call it and atm he works in the army gym doing pt and he loves fitness so he really enjoys it for now. We talk about maybe starting our own business one day but there are no guarantees with that and I suppose we’ve gotten comfortable. At the same time I would be in bits if/when he ever gets deployed somewhere so that anxiety is always in the back of your mind and if I’m honest with myself I don’t actually believe any country should have an army. But then if he stays he can build up a pension… There are benefits and trade offs but it’s a life we’ve gotten used to for now I suppose.

          • Cathy says:

            Thanks for filling me in – makes me sound really nosey, but I am just genuinely interested in people!

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