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Crystal Palace

A greenhouse has to be the ultimate garden accessory; a place to grow all those ‘special’ things, somewhere to start off next year’s flowers and vegetables or simply an even better place to go and hide than the shed! I’ve spent months of my life (not all at once I hasten to add!) in greenhouses of varying shapes and sizes, some cheap plastic affairs, others much larger structures, and even one which my father bought for me second-hand which came complete with a fantastic collection of orchids needing a new caring owner! Each and every one, regardless of their provenance have been magical places, allowing me get up close with the plants and get a real understanding of just what they need to give of their best – a better living classroom you couldn’t wish for. On a more basic level it has provided a great a diversion somewhere (relatively!) warm and dry where you can simply enjoy a ‘Hamlet’ moment with a cup of tea and a custard cream – when ‘bastard’ trenching the veg plot in the rain is frankly something that can just wait!

To a dedicated gardener even a polytunnel is a thing of beauty, but for most people it’s just pushing the boundaries of good taste when seen in the context of garden design. Together with the great resurgence in growing your own, the ‘artistry’ of greenhouses (or glasshouse if you prefer) has now seen the market awash with some very elegant wooden and metal variants – any of which would add a real statement within any garden setting. They are also ultra-functional with energy efficient systems (greener?!) and really useful equipment which coupled with their stunning looks put them at the top of any gardeners wish list for Santa.

I have installed many types of greenhouses for clients over the years (mostly of the 6 x 8 variety to compliment a standard suburban veg plot) so when the opportunity came to add a top of the range building into an already beautiful garden I sprang into action. First we needed to find a position where it would get the sun for most of the day and also where it would best ‘fit’ into the rest of the landscape of the garden. We had already decided on an Alitex Messenger, a traditional-looking structure which would not only compliment the grade 2 listed house but which would also be a fitting reminder of the time, over a century ago, when a ‘Messenger’ greenhouse was first installed in the grounds.

We selected a spot close to a boundary where there were no close neighbours and where it could be seen in a distant view from the house. The next hurdle, planning, took nearly 3 months but once we had this we then simply had to set a date for the fitters to bring along the structure in it’s elemental ‘Meccanno’ form and build it onto the very substantial brick base and back wall we had already constructed. Thankfully it fitted like a glove and within 5 days the new greenhouse was born!

After all the months of waiting and planning we now have the Rolls Royce of greenhouses – with room for a table and chair should there ever be time just to sit and enjoy the ambience of a very special Crystal Palace!

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