A bespoke design for garden blogger, The Tea Break Gardener, this greenhouse needed to be a functional space for raising plants as well as one in which to enjoy garden tea breaks. A stripy deckchair and digital radio take pride of place, and the greenhouse has become her favourite place to sit, relax, admire her plants and plan garden projects.
A home gardener with a penchant for growing edibles and ornamentals from seeds and cuttings, space is needed to display her growing collection of unusual plants and see them safely through the cold winters of the Chiltern Hills. Having longed for a new greenhouse for over a decade, it was important to make the right choice for its design and construction. Having visited greenhouse stands at various horticultural shows, she developed a relationship with Alitex and realised they understood her requirements and could build her perfect greenhouse.
Sited within the mature garden of a house built in an Arts and Crafts style in 1912, it was important that the design of the greenhouse matched the fashion of the era. The garden retains elements laid out over a hundred years ago, including dry stone walls, rustic paving and a rose garden. By using wider panes of glass and avoiding cresting and overly ornamental finials, the design is akin to the wooden greenhouses of the Edwardian period but built in modern powder-coated aluminium.
The greenhouse, together with a garage for her car enthusiast husband, was planned within a new walled kitchen courtyard at the top of the drive. The courtyard wall, two metres tall in places, was built using handmade bricks fired in nearby Chesham and carefully colour match to the house. A three quarter span glasshouse, with central lobby, was designed to attach the warm-toned-south-facing brick wall and the same quality bricks from the base of the greenhouse.
Within the greenhouse, ample benching and strawberry boards provide a flexible space to nurture plants, whilst bigger specimens are grown in pots on the flagstone floor. Plants are constantly moved around to show off blooming specimens, or to find a plant's perfect spot.
A partioned area is used to display ornamental plants including Mandevilla, Avocados, Jacaranda and three types of Passion Flower. Our client is attempting to grow a South African King Protea from seed and two Nerium Oleanders have had their best ever summer in the sunny, warm glasshouse. The advantage of the smaller partitioned area is that it can be heated using Alitex's fan heater to provide the minium temperatures required to see these warm blooded plants through the winter.
The very hot summer was a particular challenge and the external Fell Shades were crucial in reducing scorching on the previous plants and in preventing the temperatures within the greenhouse from climbing too high. Meanwhile, the internal reservoir and hand pump enables efficient watering, providing soft rainwater, without resorting to a tap.
Best of all are the lights, which provide a chance to work on her plants at night, pricking out seedlings and taking cuttings. It is a relaxing way to end the day and whenever a family memeber asks where she is, the answer is invariably - in the greenhouse.