A South African paradise in an Alitex greenhouse

Red and yellow Clivias in Alitex freestanding messenger greenhouse

When driving up to our client’s home in the beautiful Surrey Hills, the first thing that caught the eye was a very smart greenhouse nestling next to the garage. It isn’t often you see an Alitex structure in the front garden, but it certainly didn’t look out of place.

It was a dewy morning and even though there was a slight build up of condensation on the windows, blurring the view of what was inside, shades of orange and yellow could be seen. The burst of colour came from a collection of Clivias, our client has had a passion for these South African natives for many years.

Bespoke, freestanding, messenger greenhouse in greensand
Having been given one by her friend many years ago, the original plant had spawned many individual plants since. They start to bloom in March through to the end of April, so the greenhouse was ablaze with colour when we visited. 

Her greenhouse is used slightly differently to most, in that she uses it to overwinter her exotic plants, which include cannas, ginger lilies and amaryllis amongst others which means that summer is often the quietest season. Once the weather warms up and the Clivias have finished blooming, they are all relocated in the garden to enjoy a bit of sunshine. However our client said that the greenhouse isn’t completely out of action, “I usually grow tomatoes in the summer and I have tried cucumbers, with modest success!”

Our client aims to keep the greenhouse at 5 degrees during the colder months using fleece and bubble wrap to form a homemade tent over the plants, this contains the warmth from the heater to where it is needed. The base and dwarf walls of the greenhouse is fully insulated which helps to keep heating costs to a minimum.

There are other plants tucked behind the Clivia leaves; several other types of lily, including a Gloriosa, together with geraniums from previous years. The original ginger lily (pictured below) belonged to her mother, “I have a photograph of her taken with it at least 30 years ago,” our client reminisces. What a fantastic memory, we look forward to seeing it in bloom later in the summer.

30 year old Ginger Lily
The greenhouse itself was built 4 years ago, but our client’s love for growing came long before that. The decision to change the old structure to an Alitex was one that she has not regretted; it wasn’t however, a hasty one. The colour of the greenhouse alone had taken months of planning, with samples hung in the trees next to the site to ensure the perfect shade was chosen. Because of the position close to the garage and the house it was important that the dwarf wall of the greenhouse matched the bond of the other buildings, typical of this part of Surrey; rich red bricks are interspersed with dark blue ones. The front door to the house has now been painted to match the greenhouse, confirmation that the right colour was chosen!

The enthusiasm from our client was infectious, not only did we come away with another unique story to share, we were also given a little cutting of her Jade Tree which she insists will be an easy-to-grow houseplant!

“I like to grow things that are spectacular, that make a statement and are just a bit different!” our client commented as we left  “and my Alitex greenhouse perfectly compliments this ethos”.

If you would like to speak to one of our team about starting your own greenhouse project and even arrange a visit, give us a call on 01730 826 900 or you can email us at enquiries@alitex.co.uk.

Tags: Clivias, greenhouse, ginger lily, growing