}

January 2, 2012

A Sunny Winter Day in the Greenhouse

WITH OUTSIDE TEMPERATURES EXPECTED TO FINALLY DROP TO BELOW 10 DEG. F, A BRONZE COLORED CYMBIDIUM ORCHID ENJOYS A SUNBEAM ON A JANUARY SUNNY AFTERNOON IN THE GREENHOUSE.
Of the many pleasures one has in keeping a greenhouse in New England is the ability to garden during those months when snow is deep, and outside temperatures are far below freezing. It may be frosty outdoors, but underglass - in a t-shirt- I am muddy and filthy in the good way - with hand pruners, loppers, rakes and hoses. I actually prefer gardening in January in the greenhouse more than a June day in the garden. With the scent of almond and jasmine in the moist, green-smelling air, physical labor under glass in ones own greenhouse is one of the most memorable experiences. I have to admit, even as a snow-lover, with no snow this year, this sure beats shoveling snow! ( Lest we forget - last January).

I began my two weeks off from work ( the first full week I took all year), with a long to-do list, and naturally, very little from that list was accomplished. I was never able to get the greenhouse properly prepared for winter with a wrap of bubble wrap inside of the glass, so I do hope that this mild winter continues ( although, 8 deg. F tomorrow!), but I never really expect to get much done on these staycations. I just let each day dictate what needs to be done. 


A PHAIUS TANKERVILLIAE, AN ENORMOUS ASIAN COOL-GROWING ORCHID WHICH HAS BEEN GROWN IN ESTATE GREENHOUSES SINCE 1778, SPREADS ITS LEAVES TO ABSORB THE SHORT WINTER DAY-LENGTH. NEW FLORAL SCAPES ARE BEGINNING TO EMERGE ON THIS LARGE, GROUND-GROWING ORCHID. 
 There are experiences you never think about, once you have a home greenhouse. First, you have this realization that you could grow most everything ( except the warmest, tropicals). So restraint is to be practiced, especially during seed-ordering season. I know that I could order rare primrose seed, the finest hyrbid French Delphiniums, rare bulb or challenging annuals that are practically impossible to foster in a home, all are easy peasy with a greenhouse.

I've found that the best way to control myself, is to establish little rules. I try to grow only a few genus a year ( I am thinking that this year I may focus on Hollyhocks in one section of the garden). Of course, this list changed daily, so it all really depends on the precise moment when I place an order on-line. Tigridia is on my list for a large, long bed near the greenhouse, and definitely many many pots of Tuberoses ( the single ones) which I will grow in the antique methods outlined in those old gardening books I wrote about in December. Dahlias again, and most likely, a large experiment on recreating ( or creating - since they really never existed except in art) the ideal cottage garden - you know, those annuals and biennials one rarely sees grown well, which must be sown in place like Poppies, Godetia, Nemisia, Schizanthus, Salpiglosses, Mimulus, Foxgloves, Hollyhocks, Campanulas, and the like. I just need the thatched cottage to go with this project.

REMEMBER THOSE WINTER-GROWING SWEET PEAS THAT I PLANTED IN OCTOBER?  THANKS TO MICE, WHO ATE 33 SEEDLINGS, I ONLY HAVE 4 LEFT. I TRANSPLANTED THEM TODAY INTO A LARGE, FELT FABRIC CONTAINER. I AM USING A BEEN TOWER AS A TRELLIS. WITH A GOOD DOSE OF LIQUID FEED, AND A PINCH TO STIMULATE A STRONGER SIDE SHOOT WHICH WILL BECOME THE MAIN STEM, I SHOULD HAVE SWEET PEA FLOWERS BY THE END OF MARCH, OR EARLY APRIL.
READY FOR THE COMPOST PILE, FANCY WEEDS FROM A WINTERS DAY OF WEEDING AND PRUNING. ACACIA, SPANISH MOSS ( TILANDSIA), CAMELLIA AND JASMINUM.  
SET ON A RAISED SAND PLUNGE BED, THE POT OF SWEET PEAS REMAINS WARMER.  THE JASMINE VINE ON THE LEFT, HAS BECOME A WEED IN THE GREENHOUSE, RUNNING AROUND THE FOUNDATION AND UP 16 FEET IN THE REAR. IT WILL BLOOM IN MARCH, WHICH I LOVE, BUT I STILL HAD TO DO SOME SERIOUS HACKING. UN-MANAGED, IT GROWS AS FAST AS KUDZU.

A BENCH OF VELTHIEMIA DIVISIONS. I HAVE SO MANY, THAT THESE MAY FIND NEW HOMES IN A FEW WEEKS.

CAMELLIAS NEED ATTENTION, EVEN IN THE WINTER. IT'S A LITTLE LATE TO DO THIS, BUT VARIETIES THAT FORM CLUSTERS OF FLOWER BUDS, SHOULD HAVE THE EXCESS BUDS REMOVED, TO ALLOW EACH FLOWER TO DEVELOP TO A MATURE SIZE. LEAVING TWO BUDS IS SOMETIMES OK, BUT I LIKE PERFECT FLOWERS, SO ALL BUT ONE BUD IS REMOVED.
CAMELLIA BUDS SNAP OFF EASILY. IF ONE KEEPS TOO MANY ON A PLANT, THE PLANT ITSELF WILL DROP MOST IF NOT ALL OF IT'S BUDS. YOUR REWARD WILL BE LARGE, PERFECTLY FORMS BLOSSOMS.







8 comments :

  1. Your greenhouse looks amazing - I'd love to have one like that! Maybe someday :)

    --Jennie

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  2. Last year I planted the day neutral sweet peas in a container in early August and put them in the greenhouse for winter and I had fresh cut sweet peas on the Christmas table. And because it was early I had no mice problems. You should try it next year!

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  3. Love your winter greenhouse posts. If one can't afford one this is the next best thing to owning a greenhouse (and no worries or expenses).

    Happy New Year Matt. I hope the new year brings a greenhouse filled to perfection with great foliage, flowers and scent (and as few problems with winter snow and the furnice).

    Keep on blogging, it helps on such a cold winter day.

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  4. I am hoping to get a greenhouse sometime this year. I hope I am able to show your restraint on the plants I try to grow. Somehow I doubt it.

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  5. Anonymous5:15 PM

    I admire your year round use of your greenhouse!
    If I had know are Winter would be so mild I would have used mine all Winter this year also!
    Stacey
    www.downtoearthdigs.wordpress.com

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  6. There is no better place to be then in a greenhouse, absolutely my favorite. A nice little tour around the greenhouse, very nice. If you'd ever consider sparing one of your Veltheimia to another plant crazed gardener, I'd buy one off you + shipping. I've been reading a lot about south african plants as of late and these look amazing. Either way, just a thought, great post!

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  7. Like a kid in a candy shop! What a glorious staycation you seem to have had!

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  8. Thanks everyone! I have missed out on some super greenhouse days this past weekend, ( it stinks leaving for work when it is dark, and returning from home in the dark) so weekends are so essential, especially when it is sunny out! If you guys can ever build a greenhouse - do it by all means. It makes such a difference in your life.

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