Giving the greenhouse a future

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The north side of the Greenhouse needed most work, being shaded from the sun.

This past week, the joiners have been giving the Greenhouse a makeover. We have a timber-framed greenhouse here at the Scottish Country Garden which is quite old, and which, interestingly had a life somewhere else before it came here in the 1970’s/ 1980’s. We know this because there is a fitting for a light bulb at one end, but no switch nor any wiring in the greenhouse itself or over to the house! In truth, it is actually two greenhouses bolted together, hence it has doors at either end!

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Inside of the Greenhouse, before work started. There are two vines on the north side, a Black Hamburg grape (near) and a Kiwi Fruit, both of which had to be heavily pruned to allow access. The sills behind these plants exhibited the most rot, owing to the summer humidity levels here when the plants are in full leaf

In the last couple of years, though, we’ve noticed that some of the wood had become quite rotten, including some quite important load-bearing timbers. Some of the window-sills and frames had also been starting to come apart, and weeds had actually started to grow in the softened wood behind the vine.

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Work underway, showing the temporary support required to enable rotten timbers to be cut out and replaced

We didn’t want to lose the greenhouse as it’s a bit of an old friend, (and the cost of replacing it would be significant). As regular readers will know, it’s heavily used in the spring and summer, so we managed to find a local joiner who has beautifully restored it to its former glory, and just in time before the winter.

While we don’t heat our greenhouse, we do over-winter some tender plants there, including a Canary Island Palm, a Bay Tree and some young Pride of Madeira (Echium), which we have grown in pots and which have been outside during the summer. We’ve also put the surplus potted young herbaceous plants in there for safe-keeping; the early spring sun will coax them into growth nice and early, and will help grow them on to a decent size ready for spring planting-out.

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Back to normal! The far table has young Echium (Pride of Madeira) plants over-wintering, and to the left of that some Lonicera (Shrubby Honeysuckle) cuttings which we struck in September, and which have already made root! The table on the right houses miscellaneous young herbaceous.

In like a lamb and out like a lion, and that’s just the first week!

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P.denticulata

The battleship grey skies and cold temperatures have returned, with even a light covering of snow this morning, heralding (according to the long-range forecast) a rather more wintry March than we had last year.

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The new Lonicera hedge “Great Expectations”!

Still the Good Lady was able to take advantage of some better weather in the early part of the week with some frenzied hoeing, concluding the work we were doing last weekend on the rose beds. The herb bed too has been hoed over as have the two vegetable beds in the rear part of the walled garden. The GL too planted out some Lonicera (shrubby honeysuckle) cuttings that had rooted over the winter to make a low hedge around one of the vegetable beds. These rooted amazingly quickly in the late summer and over the winter and will very quickly establish, although they are likely to require 2 or 3 trims a year. The other vegetable bed has lavender round it. These plants we grew from seed last year and are still quite small although we should get some good flowering in the mid-late summer. The box cuttings we took in the autumn have come through the winter well and these should be showing signs of root as the spring advances. When large enough, these too will be used to edge some of the borders.

wpid-20130309_100517.jpgIn the greenhouse, the sweet pea seeds have been planted, together with some ‘All the Year Round’ lettuce, some mysterious ‘trial’ leeks and some assorted wild flowers. It’s pretty early for seed-sowing here, but none of these need much heat and I’m hopeful that we’ll get some bright weather over the next few weeks which will bring them through. We’ll probably leave the herbaceous seed for a few more weeks, though, until the overnight temperatures are more consistently above 0 degrees C.

wpid-20130309_095613.jpgTaking a wander-round this morning, it was good to see the Primula denticulata (the drumstick primulas) starting to emerge from their basal cluster of leaves; we grew quite a lot of these from seed a couple of years ago and their flowering season is quite long. The first little flower of our Pulmonaria ‘Sissinghurst White’ has also appeared in the shade border – a picture will follow in a few weeks’ time when a few more have emerged!

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A. palmatum ‘Sangokaku’

And finally for this week, I was very taken with the coral-pink stems of our new Acer palmatum ‘Sangokaku’ which we put in a year ago – it’s certainly giving our red-stemmed Cornus a run for its money!