22 December 2011 By Nelly Hall
Mr and Mrs Macphie and their gardening team have been managing the Glenbervie Estate for over twenty years, making vast changes and overcoming significant challenges – not least of all, the replacement of their dilapidated wooden greenhouse.
The vast walled garden, built 200 years ago at Glenbervie, has been dramatically nurtured and expanded over the years and positively brims full with a stunning array of plants from forgotten plants of yesteryear to modern day hybrids.
The stunning greenhouse, which stretches over 30 meters across the south facing wall, was used to feed the entire estate when it was built in the 1850s. The greenhouse was really starting to show up this awe-inspiring garden and the Macphies knew it had to be replaced. They considered all the fall backs of timber in terms of annual expense, finding joiners with the skill to undertake the work, coping with the changing nature of wood and the amount of time the maintenance demands of the gardening team.
They had decided an aluminium structure would be worth considering and looked at three companies with a clear brief to replicate the existing structure in hard wearing aluminium. One company said the design would have to be dictated by their capabilities; another company came to visit and then said they could not create it, which left Alitex who could produce a replica in aluminium and gave the Macphies the confidence that with Alitex, they were getting the best greenhouse on the market that would last for generations to come.
The Macphies wanted to see other large scale aluminium greenhouses and Alitex were able to show them a range of similar scale projects, leaving the Macphies confident that Alitex really was the best and only option.They felt that the price on reflection was good when considering the expense and continual demand on the gardening teams’ time in maintaining the existing wooden greenhouse. The time could now be spent on nurturing the plants in the greenhouse.
Alitex produced various design options - one fulfilling the exact replication brief, and other options with improvements on the functionality of the greenhouse such as improved guttering and vents. The Macphies decided to go with the improved functionality option. They were impressed that Alitex were able to replicate the curved beading, the castings of the finials and cresting and even the curved vine supports which were specially created for their aspirations.
The Macphies have commented that the Alitex approach worked for them. When Alitex said something would happen it DID happen and the team putting up the greenhouse were respectful and tidy throughout. Although a major project – they felt that Alitex made it a ‘stress free’ and enjoyable experience.
The greenhouse at Glenbervie has been designed with partitions all with individual heat settings to suit varying growing needs. From exotic flower displays to a range of vegetables and overcoming the biggest challenges faced when growing under glass - what can you grow together? As you walk through the greenhouse starting from the coldest end you can actually feel the temperature rise in each section, it's marvellous.
The greenhouse has become a sort of fairy land of plants – the only limitation is the imagination of the Macphies and their gardening team! The first and coolest section of the greenhouse is the perfect environment for justicas, ginger, peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes. You then walk through to the next section where delicious white peaches grow in abundance, apricot trees, agapanthus, and various cacti. Then warmer still, begonias, a mimosa tree and the ‘piece de la resistance,’ a hanging bed. Alitex designed the hanging bed to create the optimum growing conditions for a passion flower display – this also provides shading for the other plants in this area. You'd be mistaken for thinking you were wandering through the best flora of each continent.
Have a look at our gallery for some wonderful images and do keep an eye out for the rare days when Glenbervie Gardens are open to the public.