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Thursday, December 27, 2012

It's been a long story. But as you know, I love long stories. Long stories lend themselves to the serialization that makes blogs such fun to follow. Long stories come around and circle back on themselves and if everything goes right there will be a satisfying conclusion. There's not much I love more than a long story with a satisfying conclusion. 

It all started in on June 29, 2012, with that mighty storm that blew my Garden Pod away.

And the story continued with the construction of the Rion Prestige Greenhouse kit we ordered to replace it. It all looked so simple, so doable, so procedural. First, you prepare the ground, then you build the roof...

making extra efforts to assemble the profile, because "Caution: extra efforts while inserting the profile might needed to keep the profile in its place for the greenhouse's life."

What's a profile? We never figured that out. But we got the extra efforts thing covered.

I used a scissors to force the rubber weatherstrip into a tiny channel between the window and the frame. You had to use great pressure, moving the scissors along about a centimeter at a time, groaning loudly the whole way because your biceps were about to burst. If things went really well, you didn't stab yourself, and you might be able to get rubber in two or three of the window sides.

  I've just concluded my fourth weatherstripping session. Each window took me a half hour to weatherstrip. If I could do it at all. Many of the windows were so ill-fitting that they couldn't be weatherstripped. Those, I had to plug with strips of foam insulation board. Those hand-sized gaps we've heard so much about. Phhhhh. You can see the board in the lower left corner of the photo above.

 Count 'em, do the math, and weep. That's me, kneeling over a coil of "ruber guard," seeing how many windows I have to weatherstrip. Oh, and there's the front and doors, too. Contrary to the directions, which wordlessly and inexplicably advocate a toolless approach, there is no way in Hades you could force that stuff in those tiny cracks with your fingers. Unless you are a cyborg with titanium fingers, and bleed sparks instead of blood.

Before we leave the instructions, another page that filled us with despair. Just for fun. Maybe there are people who dig the challenge of deciphering this kind of stuff. Me and Bill, not so much. We're sort of throw-the-manual aside and git-r-dun types. But we changed our act for this effort. We pored over those diagrams, to what avail I'm not sure.

But eventually we got something that resembled the picture in the 44-page book. 

And despite some very strong winds of 40 or more mph, it is still standing in the backyard. You can't see inside it because of the condensation running down the walls. It is one WET greenhouse.

And the doors haven't blown off.

And when I open them up, something very nice happens inside me.

I feel myself leafing out, like this poor tortured tangerine orange hibiscus that to all appearances died in the cold garage. I have a feeling it will bloom again.

I step inside and yodel, "HELLO DAHLINGS!"

and my plants holler "HELLO MILADY!"

and I heave a happy sigh looking at the paddle plant (a kind of kalanchoe) which is blooming its fool head off. And the fishhook cactus which never has in 22 years, but might someday. Plants like to surprise you.

And the hot pink Graffiti geranium that will soon be joined by flowers of all kinds (that's Vancouver Centennial, a Victorian dwarf geranium, on the right).

There are three chairs inside for those mugs of afternoon tea and those sunset moments when you just need to be in drippy warm humidity and around something green and growing, however modest.

The watering cans are warming by the heater so my dahlings get a nice tepid drink when they're thirsty because nobody likes freezing cold water on their feet in the winter.

You just wait. There's going to be a riot of color in here, and when the poor shocky yellowing poet's jasmine kicks in with its ethereal musky fragrance, the greenhouse will have arrived. Even now, it's dropping leaves, but it's budding, too. Kind of like me in midwinter.

That's my giant rosemary tree, the third one I've grown, on the left. She donates many leaves to roasts, soups and spiced pecans.

Now that we've got the zillion heat-escape holes mostly stopped up with bits and strips of foam insulation and weatherstrip, and it's reliably pretty warm inside, I promise to bring you back throughout the winter, into my new little Xanadu where there's always a piece of summer thriving.

                            Not that I need it or anything. Everything worth having must be worked for, no?


Hooray for you all, you hard-working greenhouse bees! Very happy to see your darlings in their new happy place.

miss weezy in TX


Congratulations on your greenhouse accomplishments! I am not sure if I would have stuck in there like that. We had a chicken coop built at a different location and had to re-construct it at home. All I have to say is, I hope the chickens are happy. I hope your plants are happy :).

I literally punched the air upon reading this, Julie! Great job and I hope your plants will have a great time in their new greenhouse!

Oh, how beautiful! Yes, the hibiscus will come back; they are incredibly hardy. My husband and I once rescued one that was little more than a stick that someone was going to put in the furnace at a hotel where we worked. He potted it and nursed it back to health. That was twenty years ago. It now occupies a large quadrant of our bird room. Its offspring (taken from a trimming. They are also insanely easy to propagate) occupies another large quadrant. They are resplendent.

I looked up "profile" in this context in my online dictionary. It says that it's a "vertical cross-section of a structure". Huh. Why couldn't they just say that? More to the point, with 40-some pages of "instructions", you'd think they could have tried for clarity over brevity linguistically.

Posted by Anonymous December 27, 2012 at 2:16 PM

Congratulations on the end of the project! Just wondering if tubes of some sort of silicon caulking would have worked. I guess it would have been expensive with all those windows... nevermind!
I can just hear all the "thank you's" coming from the plants.

Hooray hooray! I'm so glad you got your tropical retreat back. Hope your oasis brings you great joy through the winter!

Hey, I know those nuts! The spiced pecans, I mean.

Best not let my pathetic little rosemary plant, the one I am so proud of having kept alive for seven whole years (my gardening efforts are strictly pass/fail), get wind of your glorious rosemary topiary in its humid castle. My back stairwell is a chilly and pathetic excuse for a winter herb garden, and when I mist my knobby- kneed plant, I promise you it's not a nice warm mist. More like getting hit by the snowmaking gun's little white pellets while riding up the chairlift at Wildcat Mtn on a really, really, really cold day...which makes it all the more remarkable, I guess, that the thing is still offering up sprigs for spiced pecans and roast chickens. I suspect if it knew there were greenhouses like yours, my plant might go on strike.

As for the successful conclusion to your greenhouse story, I am relieved beyond words on your behalf. Hooray for you, and huzzah to all your worthy helper-elves with the proper tools and stout fingernails, for getting that dang thing up and humming.

Happy geranium blossoms, forever and a day!


Posted by KH Macomber December 28, 2012 at 6:38 AM

Here, this time of year means freedom from drippy humidity. So funny that you might miss it.

The glass is always drippier on the other side of the greenhouse, I guess.

Things you work hardest for, have the most value to you. And what a beautiful arrangement of plants. So when is the messy part going to start? I was always trying to fit in all my seed trays, cuttings, rescued plants, and other stuff that had to stay unfrozen.

Oh, I'll get to the messy. There was such a long lag period between first frost (ten days before Halloween) and the roofing (after Thanksgiving). And during that time the plants were languishing in the unheated garage in their great big pots. When it finally hit me that we weren't going to get this thing erected "on a good Saturday," as the distributer had told me we could, I tore into the plants and took little divisions. In some cases all I had was a bit of root! Threw those into pots, put them in the living room for a month (there's your messy!) and what resulted is what you see. They're bouncing back. I've no doubt they can fill the place up by May 1!

Yes, Floridacracker, when my hands and lips start to split, the greenhouse saves me. What you got, we want, but in measured doses.

Clear silicone caulking might have been another option for sealing all your air leaks. Much easier than bloody fingers.

Thanks for the tour and the conclusion! I love it that you have someplace to leaf out in during the winter months. The hard part is over. Job well done! I'm sure your plants are very happy to be in their new home.

Congratulations! I've always wanted a greenhouse, but all I have is a small tangled garden packed with about ten times as many plant and trees as it should have. I'll be looking forward to seeing pictures of your little oasis in a few months!

Wow. Simply wow. Wouldn't mind being a plant in that greenhouse! I'd be assured of a wonderful life. That tangerine orange hibiscus is going to bloom like magic (thanks to the magic in your hands). Happy nearly New Year!!

Loved your posts about this; I couldn't wait to hear how you coped with this. I'm a technical writer and I once had a boss who demanded we "write" the cell phone manual without words--maybe he's working for the greenhouse company now! All the best for your new sanctuary.

Posted by Anonymous January 1, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Hooray for the groanhouse! I am in awe of your rosemary tree.

Hello Julie,

If you see this, please help. I was recently given this exact greenhouse just a little larger (Rion Prestige 1 8x20) by a family that had gotten frustrated with construction and just left it in the garage for the past 10 years. The biggest problem is, I've got no instruction manual and they have apparently changed the design of some features a lot over the years. haha. None the less, after 3 week of construction, Ive got the whole thing together. This is where I need help. I cannot figure out where these two metal gold latch looking things go. I'm assuming they go around the door and have a function somehow, but I got no clue.

Please, Please help. haha

Posted by Anonymous May 25, 2017 at 8:53 PM

Hi Unknown,

First, I am completely amazed that you built this thing by yourself with no manual, Incredible. Second, I look at this pristine nicely put together thing and compare it with the sagging hulk that's out there now and sigh. Mine's been hard used but has given me a ton of joy (after its "construction"). Third, I ran down to the greenhouse and the two latch things probably go on the inside of the left door as you face the greenhouse from outside. You should find two holes in the door frame, top and bottom. One latch goes on the inside top of the left door, one on the inside bottom, and the latches go into the holes in the door frame.

Good luck and report back!

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