The Wonderful Greenhouse

Part one…

My first greenhouse was a little lean-to on the back of the kitchen.


We inherited it, already attached to the cottage, when we moved in. At first it was just full of boxes – we left a good size town house to try out a relatively small farm cottage… in February.

No central heating, but storage heaters. Three small boys. Snow.

Everything we couldn’t fit into the rooms went into the greenhouse at first. As it covered the kitchen window, it did make the room rather dark! But they were short winter days anyway and the shock of no streetlights made everywhere seem dark.


Blimey. Were we really that messy!!

As the months passed, the  boxes slowly got emptied and eventually at least we could see over them.  The boys explored the snow, ice, mud and ditches until they turned blue. We had  good fireplaces to warm us all up.

When the  weak spring sun shone more often, our dog Tess settled to sleep in the greenhouse. I loved to look across the garden at twilight and see the warmth of our glowing home shining out.


At last we managed to have central heating put in. The large, second hand boiler went into the greenhouse and the cat moved in too. (There was no space to put it in the house! The boiler that is,  not the cat.)

To be honest, it didn’t always grow much in there. Sometimes only a few weeds! An enormous, single asparagus shoot just outside the door. A place to have a quiet smoke in the rain….


It collected cricket bats and flat footballs, broken garden toys and dead flies…

With a large new garden to tackle, young children and a growing gardening job of my own, that little greenhouse  was sadly neglected.

Then we added an extension to the kitchen, so down it came!


For a while, the boiler had a little ‘shed’ all of it’s own.


As the foundations progressed for our extra space ( very slowly, with spades..), my Granddad died.

Bless him. Too many fond memories to mention here… elderberry wine and peanut trees, boiled sweets obliterated with a rolling pin and the racing on the tele –  the cry of ‘PHIL!’ going up at regular intervals – licking the carving knife clean (!)  He deserves a post of his own. ( Or probably a blog of his own!)

He left each of his grandchildren £500.00 and I used mine to build a greenhouse.

This is what the end of the garden looked liked originally – in 1999 I think –


The builders – who were also my workmates –  helped me to build it and we scavenged     ( reclaimed?!) as many of the materials as possible.


First we laid the bricks around the edge on a small foundation – using the ones which were too damaged or scruffy for the house.  Then re-claimed concrete paving slabs went down for the floor.

I scoured local skips, managing to find some old windows and a glass door.

We covered in one end with featheredge wood, and also the low sides.  Then built a frame for the rest which would fit standard sized greenhouse glass ( which is relatively cheap!)

We managed to recycle most of the glass from the little old lean-to  greenhouse, including the two roof lights.


There was enough money left to put wooden staging around two  sides for the plants. The roof was braced with old scaffolding poles – partly because at that time I made a lot of hanging baskets each year for customers. The supports needed to be strong!

The wood was painted barn black ( of course!)

And it was beautiful. And it still is.


I find it difficult to  always believe it is ‘mine’. If it belonged to someone else I would be extremely  envious! When I go down there, especially at this time of year, I breathe deeply the scent of tomatoes and marigolds, cucumbers and damp, green foliage. I can feel my shoulders relax and drop down. I would like to live in there really…   But that is another story.





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