Greenhouses – They Rock

This is a guest post from my friend Sophie!

The effortless cool of greenhouses

A lovely, kept garden can go a long way. Perhaps you’re feeling down, and could use some quiet time. Writer’s block? Sit back in your garden and just wait for 5 minutes. Want to relax? There’s nothing as relaxing as leaning back in your garden with a good book in hand. Or maybe a friend with a couple of delicious glasses of afternoon cocktails.

But come winter, you’re left with the sole option of dull and dreary room.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could have a lush garden year-round?

Yes, and you could do just that with a greenhouse.

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Greenhouses are the best

Greenhouses take the joy of gardening and release it from the shackles of seasonal changes. You can relax, knowing you can control temperature, lighting and humidity. This makes it ideal to grow whatever you want, really. Maybe it’s beautiful flowers.  Maybe it’s something organic and edible like vegetables and some fruits. Either way you’ll be left with stunning and joyful results.

There is no way you could go wrong with a greenhouse. Though getting the ideal garden that you’d love (or learn to love!) might be tricky for the picky few.

Let’s start with the ground

The ground leading to and surrounding the greenhouse is equally important as the house itself. We’ll pick some perennial plants for this. Perennial plants are the easiest for maintenance because they’re incredibly resilient. Creeping perennials can endure being walked on. There are some that even love it – they thrive underfoot.

First, decide on how much, or how little, you’d like your pathway to be littered with green. Perhaps a few stone pieces and more green would do. Sometimes it’s best to pick rabble for the majority and drizzle some green on the sides.

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Alpine Geranium, Elfin Thyme, Dymondia Margaretae, Scotch Moss

Now it’s time to pick plants that thrive with similar water, and sun needs, and have largely the same growth rates.

White Alpine Geranium grows slowly, but produces white flower in spring and summer. Dymondia margaretae, or silver carpet, enjoys the sun and gives yellow blooms in the summer. Elfin Thyme, Thymus serpyllum Elfin, loves feet, grows slowly, and produces pink perfumed flowers in summer. Scotch Moss prefers to bloom white flowers in spring, grows fast, but likes shade and sun equally. Mazus radicans grows somewhat moderately, enjoys the sun, and brings purple flowers in summer.

Glass, metal and wood

Greenhouses have a key ingredient: glass. You can reuse any old pieces laying around after an unruly renovation effort. Purchase if necessary, but it has to be glass.

There are countless design inspirations waiting on Pinterest, but it’s best to visit your local DIY center and create a humble design on your own based on available supplies. Maybe a local glass cutter has some windows they’d love to unload.

If your DIY skills are lacking, and you don’t know anyone who’s handy with a hammer, then you could try and find pre-made greenhouses.

While the most common materials used for greenhouses include glass, metal, and wood, you could try concrete. Bribe a few architecture students with cookies, and ask for help with mixing and designing the frame.

Concrete is easy to make, and can be used to set the frame of the greenhouse – allowing you to use swaths of large glass panels for the true minimalist look. Polycarbonate panels are better for the ceiling than glass – they don’t break as easily. Check out a great video about this topic here.

Colorful, easy to maintain palettes.

You cannot overburden a greenhouse. Line up the shelves with whatever you like, and use them to your heart’s content. You could go for the classic annual plant palette.

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Peonies, Cosmos Flower and Papaver

The poppy, or Papaver has fiery petals with orange and deep red, and is really easy to get started – it will mostly self-sow no matter the environment. Make sure to put it in a sunlit area with hydrated but well-drained soil.

Marigolds are great because they go from red and orange to cream. Pick whichever color or shade you like, and enjoy them for quite some time – their blooms are longlasting.Cosmos are budget friendly, and are easily planted. They don’t need as much water, and flourish in balmy temperatures.

Peonies are a perennial plant, which makes them bloom for decades if given enough sunlight.

Irises have gorgeous, jewel-toned petals, and are also a perennial.

Irises, Daffodils and Marigolds

Irises, Daffodils and Marigolds

Daffodils have radiant blossom, and are as picture perfect as you’d expect. A visage of spring, this perennial plant enjoys an abundance of light.

Fan of Lana Del Rey? Blue hydrangeas are the mythical Carcosa-spirals of Del Rey’s ethos. Discovered by Harriet Kirkpatrick while horseback riding in Illinois, Hydrangea arborescens aka Annabelle is a lush flower bush that resembles soft, fluffy snowballs. Hydra in the name is Greek for water, and rightly so: this flower is thirsty. Make sure the soil is moist – but not wet.

Secret twist: you can change their color. It depends on the soil’s pH level. Make it more acidic (pH levels from 0 to 7) and you’ll get rich blue shades, like the deep end of the pool. Cerulean, even. Alkaline soil (ph 7 to 14) tends to bring out the soft pink in the petals and brighten them.

You could reserve space in the greenhouse for your summer annual plants that are to fragile to survive the harsh colds of winter.

A place to calm and recollect

You can personalize a corner of the greenhouse with a seating area. It’s an ideal place to escape to, or to reflect.

For example, you could furnish it with Chinese Chippendale garden chairs. The sublime fretwork will fit with the otherwise messy but charming aesthetic of the greenhouse. Just make sure to use outdoor fabric with the chairs, so it survives in the greenhouse in all weather.

Another idea is to create an oasis of calm. Assemble a hammock made from outdoor fabric. Speckle its surroundings with lavender, and add gratuitous pots of Hollyhocks that reach for the roof. Top the hammock with a simple canopy. The soft lavender perfume, mixed with the cozy cloth and towering greens will calm any mind.

Double the greenhouse as a dining room

Farm-to-table is all the rage now, but here’s a twist: bring the table to the farm. Set up a table, any kind will do. You can buy designer dining tables, or make them from barn boards or driftwood by hand. Whatever you might already have will be fine.

Ornament the table with freshly picked flowers from the garden. Or, during winter, place pots of blossoms down the boards for an added effect of lushness.

All that’s left is to invite a few close people and enjoy the meal.

About the Author:

Sophie Andersen / Garden Blogger