I’ve moved house and had to leave my greenhouse behind, so I’m in the market for a new one. As new home priorities go a glass structure in the garden should be fairly low on the list of things to purchase, behind the replastering and new carpets. Then there’s the curtain poles and curtains, which would be useful if we don’t want our new neighbours talking. Despite all this, catalogues with fabulous greenhouses have been falling on the doormat over the last few weeks.
Ever since I was a child greenhouses have had a magical air about them. A childhood friend’s dad had one on his allotment and I can still remember warm summer days wandering through the gate to the allotments, past the chickens and the pigeon coops and into his greenhouse. The air inside was warm and moist and there was the distinctive aroma of tomatoes ripening under the glass. My friend and I spent many happy hours in there sowing seeds and potting up plants.
As garden expenditure goes greenhouses tend to be one of the most expensive one-off purchases, so making the right choice is important. My last greenhouse was tiny – just 6ft by 4ft to be precise. I loved it, but there was no getting away from the fact that it was small! There was an awful lot of shimming stuff about and my husband could only just stand up in it.
This time around I’m really hoping the budget will allow for something bigger, and in an ideal world I’ll pay someone to build it for me too. If you’re in a relationship at the moment and you’re trying to work out whether the person you’re with is destined to be your partner for life or not, go out and build a greenhouse with them. If, after days of staring at instructions, scrabbling around for the correct parts, losing the screwdriver for the umpteenth time and turning the air blue with a variety of expletives, you have a completed greenhouse and you’re still speaking to each other, you’ve found the one! My last greenhouse was constructed over a bitterly cold weekend in late November. Numb fingers and glass panels don’t make a good combination and it turned into a race against time on the Sunday afternoon as the light faded to complete the job. Thankfully we did and without calling each other names.
A visit to the greenhouse at Parham House in West Sussex a few summers ago made me want to make room for ornamentals in any new greenhouse. Plants like species and scented-leaved pelargoniums and sweetly-fragrant heliotropes. Then, of course, no greenhouse would be complete without tomatoes and chillies and I’d like to make room for a small succulent collection. Whether there’ll be space for all of these and the room to sow annuals and biennials I don’t know, but it’s fun daydreaming about my dream greenhouse.
There are a lot of decisions to make over the coming weeks – paint selections, carpet choices, light fittings – the list feels endless. I suppose I should stay focused, but I fear those brochures of staging, ventilation systems and integrated cold frames will prove too much of a distraction.