Saturday, May 11, 2013

Crystal Palace it aint!

When I first took an interest in plants and gardens as a spotty-faced teenager, I was living at home with my parents and inevitably my attention was caught by my father's rather rusty steel framed greenhouse. My father reluctantly grew tomatoes in the summer and traditional late chrysanthemums in the autumn. I really have no idea why he grew anything as he always professed to hate gardening and was very happy to hand it all over to me.

My parent's garden and you can just see the original greenhouse in the background.
 Anyway since that time, almost throughout my entire life, I have either had a greenhouse of my own or managed  greenhouses where I worked. When I retired five years ago, I no longer had access to university greenhouses and my tiny garden seemed too small for any sort of structure. During the past few springs, I have attempted to grow a few plants on the kitchen window sill and on the lounge carpet (Watch that water!)  by the patio doors but it was far from ideal. Finally my lifelong addiction has taken hold once again and I have bought a greenhouse. In order to make room for it, I had to lose a mature Pittosporum and my Paulownia tree. Hey ho - time for a change!  The result was the space for a 6' x 4' greenhouse which is probably the smallest usable size but it's mine!

David and Simon - if you live in Nottingham and need a great handyman team, contact me and I'll give you their phone number.

I considered various manufacturers and suppliers and ended up buying a Europa Manor Princess, manufactured by Eden greenhouses and supplied by Greenhouses Direct. The greenhouse was delivered in 10 days, despite ordering the green powder coated version. My local handyman David and his trusty partner Simon, cleared the space, laid a concrete base and then returned to construct the greenhouse which took a full day's hard work and much head scratching. Some of the instructions were not the easiest to follow but it did all fit together in the end and there was nothing missing. (Although I do have a bag of spare bits - Hmmm?) I'm not known as the most tolerant of people but have to say that I'm totally pleased with the end result. The greenhouse is neat and now that the glass is fitted, it seems to be very strong, although I did pay a little extra to have toughened glass.

The finished greenhouse and yes I do some some extra planting around its base to soften it into the landscape - give me a break its only been up two days!

Not surprisingly, I have almost completely filled it in 48 hours. All my seedlings from indoors have moved out to the greenhouse and I was given some spare cannas from my original stock at the University. Just today I popped up to a local nursery and bought six different tomato plants. Not the most challenging of plants for an ancient horticulturalist but I just fancy growing them again! They are all different, from cherry tomatoes through to beefsteak, reds, yellow and a chocolate brown cultivar.

And yes you do see leggy French marigolds. These are 'Striped Marvel' a tall but pretty marigold I saw and liked last year.

Cannas, some Brugmansia, the purple sugar cane (that isn't purple yet), dahlias and purple millet seedlings that also haven't shown their true colours. I do like my exotics and colour!
Once again, I can grow, propagate, take cuttings and sow seeds.No doubt you will see and hear more about my new toy in future weeks.


  1. Great decision to make space for a greenhouse Ian, we'll never be without them!

  2. My mother in law bought me a 6x4 last year (with toughened glass for the kids) and it really is fantastic- i wish I had 2! how did you get your cannas so big already? mine are tiny so far

  3. Cannas were a gift - they were the throwaways from a big batch - the runts! The rest are three times this size! The secret is warmth and start them early - difficult for amateurs and costly!

  4. Hello Ian,
    Well I know it has been a while since we have had any correspondence but I have been foloowing your blog. I know you are enjoying your greenhouse, I added one myself last fall & I love it. I have to ask, which variety of Castorbean are those? I did get the dwarf variegated you sent me germinated last spring, but for some reason they never developed variegation. I still have a few seeds so I hope to have better luck this year.

  5. Sorry Ian forgot to let you know that the previous post was from Rick in the USA Hope your MacGregor's Beets did well :)

  6. Hi Rick - good to hear from you again! I'm pleased to hear you are following the blog. The only castor bean I am growing this year is 'New Zealand Purple' which I love - deep rich purple overlaid with a steely sheen! The variegated one was I think rather disappointing but it was worth a try. The beet did well last year and amongst the different seeds there were plants which resembled the old one I remember from the past. It was great to see it is still available.

  7. Thanks Ian,
    I thought that might be the New Zealand Purple. As I said I am going to give the variegated a go again & hope I get a nice plant or two to save seeds from. I think I actually saw your plant in the background of one of your previous posts in the fall, it had some variegation I could tell. I am also trying a dwarf Blue that I purchased on eBay, I believe they came from Malta. Looks neat, tiny seeds, I think it will even be smaller than the variegated. Will have to keep you posted. Talk to ya later, Rick