14 September 2015 By Sam Duke
Simon and Maureen Green decided an Alitex greenhouse would be the perfect fit for their beautiful Kent garden, not for potting on the usual kitchen favourites, but for housing a unique collection of something a little pricklier, cacti.
The new structure needed to be beautiful and big enough to house a large collection of expanding cacti. “It started when my parents gave me one as a child, most children would have left it in a corner to die, but I liked it,” Simon commented. A Mottisfont greenhouse from our National Trust collection was chosen after a visit to our show site. The current cactus collection ranges from Cacti to Euphorbia, “I love plants like these that look very similar but are biologically, completely different.”
Although cacti enjoy warm conditions, the greenhouse shouldn't get too hot; for extra ventilation Simon decided that it would be beneficial for us to create a bespoke screen door, with hinges that come apart so it can easily be taken off in the winter. Most of the collection is kept in the main part of the greenhouse which, during winter, is kept at 5 degrees, “it is important that cacti get a cool period to winter over and become fully dormant,” he continued. A few of his plants are a little more sensitive, these are kept in the custom-made propagator designed by Alitex, “these plants are kept at 10 degrees throughout winter so they don’t die.”
Some high level shelving along the gable end as well as benching around two sides of the greenhouse give Simon plenty of display and storage space; we provided a sheet of aluminium to replace the standard hydroleca, so that his smaller pots could stand up; he is also hoping this acts as a slug deterrent, it’s working so far! There is also room for his own table and chair (pinched from the families BBQ equipment!) “I enjoy recording notes, it has been in the family for a long time so an important part of my growing.” His record for the amount of blooms in one summer is 64 and with extra space in his new greenhouse he hopes to break this, “since having the Alitex installed back in May, everything is coming back into good order; my plants are much happier as they are receiving more light.”
After hearing that Simon has only suffered very minor injuries from his cacti, it was great to see how much he is settling in to his new greenhouse, “The greenhouse really works well; it’s nice having a flashy door and the extra height is great. It has created lots of usable space.”
It was clear to see that this passion was close to Simon's heart; a particular plant, which blooms only one day of the year between 8pm and 4am, usually has him waiting up all night in anticipation for the beautiful moonflower to arrive. It was wonderful to hear that an Alitex structure is helping to reignite this pastime and give Simon the space he needs to ensure his collection is well looked after, “I now need to visit my favourite cactus nursery and really think about how to expand my collection,” he smiled.