well hello - gorgeous greenhouse...
I am seriously excited as my first ever greenhouse was finished yesterday and is now expectantly sitting in my garden. I absolutely love it but it’s like that moment when there is something new in the wardrobe and I feel excited but unsure and somehow need to take myself by surprise to wear it. I feel similar with the greenhouse - it has been a long time coming and I’ve known I’ve wanted one for years and now it’s here I need to build a relationship with it - to get to know it. Do you know that feeling? Seems a bit counter-intuitive somehow.
I’ve dreamt of a place in which to garden in a more organised fashion for years; somewhere I can have a potting tray that stays put, plus a big container to hide the compost bag and benches to grow seeds and overwinter plants. Oh, and tomatoes. I have been dreaming of tomatoes and the wonderful smell they create when grown in a greenhouse.
It all feels like a bit of an experiment - despite having gardened for years I’ve only ever dabbled in seeds and then rather unsucessfully - thank goodness for plug plants! You see I hate mess - I don’t want my window-cills covered in trays with plastic lids or bags over their heads and when I did last try seeds in the spare room they all went leggy and yellow before I got to them. I had two small children at the time, was working and had a husband who travelled a great deal and it was apparently one thing too many to work, care for the children and remember to turn my seeds and prick them out at the right moment.
But now - with enough space, since we moved to the country a couple of years ago, the kids grown up and living useful lives without much input from me AND a greenhouse I’m reckon I’m all set. I’ve got space to play. With just Milly, the mini dachsie, around during the week my seeds will get a proper look in.
I’ve chosen to site my new beauty between the back door and my studio and I’m creating a small vegetable garden to complement it which will be very visible and so needs to be as attractive as it is productive. This has felt rather a challenge as the space that made sense is very tight but I had an idea in the middle of the night last night which would give us more space and I can’t wait to get on my drawing board to see how it might work.
I’m working from a ‘mistress plan’ that I’ve created for the whole garden and I definitely recommend doing this as it ensures that each element you include will relate to the others in scale and style and that the negative space will be attractive too.
I started with a professional survey (not necessary for all gardens as small easy ones can be measured by hand but definitely worthwhile for a more complicated or larger site) and created a design for the garden that I’m going to be implementing in stages. It makes it very easy for me to sit down now and work out any adjustments before we touch anything on the ground which will save time and money.
In fact we will shortly be moving a badly sited path which I’ve hated since we arrived as its leads to a window and focuses on a vent and is just wrong. Even though I’ve hidden the vent behind some well placed containers which distract the eye the path still needs adjusting if the garden is going to look right.
The growing bit…
I’ve decided to go the Charles Dowding’ ‘no-dig’ route for obvious reasons and managed to get my hands on 36 bags of beautiful well-rotted FYM (that’s Farmyard Manure for the as yet uninitiated) which is just waiting to be spread to create my new beds once the hard landscaping around the greenhouse is sorted.
Before I can do that though I need to focus on getting the vegetable garden going and I’ve turned to a couple of wonderfully helpful people - I’m really enjoying both Charles Dowding’s ‘Organic Gardening’ book and Sarah Raven’s ‘The Great Vegetable Plot’.
I love the way each presents information that has been hard won through their own experience; Charles’s focus is more on the process of his ‘no-dig’ gardening and although Sarah is passionate about the mechanics of gardening too she is extremely interested in the appearance of the space as well as productivity and taste. You may remember she presented a very lovely productive garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show last year. I found it very inspiring and also a bit intimidating - it seemed so clever…
I’m also planning to use the greenhouse as a place to raise plants for other parts of the garden that will follow and I’m excited to have a couple of cold frames especially to help me do that.
But first I need to get my ideas organised to extend the vegetable garden and I can’t wait. Watch this space - I’ll share more as the process unfolds…