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Sunny Day Greenhouse

Thursday, February 28, 2013

This is fine, this is beautiful, but as a steady diet I prefer THIS. Pow! Wham! Bang!

this photo taken Feb. 22.

Welcome to my greenhouse! Figured you'd like an update, a peek in to see how things are growing and getting along. Sunny days in the Ohio Valley winter are rare as panda thumbs so when the orb sheds her veil even for a few minutes I race down to the greenhouse to document it. It's a place that transforms in sun. When we get sun, which is about one day in every ten. Seriously, we're hanging on by our toenails here this winter.

and yes I love it love it love it (the Rion Prestige 8 x 8 Greenhouse) just as much as I hated building it from a kit, which is a LOT. Eleventy million loves, eleventy million hates. It all balanced out in the end. Way more on the love side now. It's like forgetting the pain of labor and just bouncing the baby now.

Much as I loved my Garden Pod I like this so much better, because there's room to breathe and move around and even entertain! We can get three chairs inside comfortably. We often say goodbye to the day in its friendly, glowy space. It feels like a conservatory, as opposed to a phone booth. Come April when my plants got big I could barely get in the door of the Pod. I'm so glad the concrete pad we poured was big enough for this structure. The problem now is not to stuff it so full there's no room to sit and breathe.

A tangerine hibiscus at sunset. The first flower from my brutally cut back shrub. She has forgiven me.

I've never done to my gerania what I did to them this year, which was to knock them out of the pot in November and unceremoniously rip a section of stem and root off the huge mother plants. I  fumbled around until I found a small section that felt like it might break free with its own set of roots. Once I got the roots, I trimmed the top waaay back to just a few inches high. The roots were the important part, I reasoned. The plant could always put out more leaves and branches. Turns out I was right.

The gerania sat and sulked for several weeks, losing almost all their leaves, looking like sad short burnt sticks. I kept them moist and warm. And then they woke up. Oh boy, did they wake up.
This is Vesuvius.

and this is Grey Sprite, a true miniature. Tiny plant, tiny leaves edged in white and sometimes pink.

 Graffiti pink, a stellar (star-leaved) geranium.

It's starting to look like a party in here!

The primroses are so pretty, economical dashes of crazy jeweltone color.

Jasminum polyanthemum (Pink jasmine, though there's nothing pink about it) is still stinkin' up the great indoors and setting many more buds! The Trader Joe's plastic label said it shouldn't have direct sun. Well, it seems to be blissfully unaware of that. Other sources I consulted say it needs four hours a day. Lucky if it gets that! We're striking a balance somewhere in between the thick flannel clouds and the rare sunbursts.

Here's a closeup. Wish I had Smellovision. It's really quite ridiculously intense. Just how I like my fragrant flowers. Just how I like life.

Vesuvius again, and the giant rosemary tree which, breaking with tradition, has not contracted powdery mildew in the new greenhouse.  Better air circulation, lower humidity, cooler temps. Maybe no mildew spores in the new structure.

Those jazzy Graffiti stellars...the red is the BEST scarlet, just like a May tanager. Gimme those hot colors this time of year. I need them. I need all the heat and light I can get.

Laura H , is your Vancouver Centennial geranium still hanging in there? Mine are going nuts.
They almost never bloom but when they do it's a light, brilliant scarlet.

This is Happy Thought Pink, a so called butterfly pelargonium, which are named for the yellow butterfly-shaped splotch in their variegated leaves. I adore the combo of variegated leaves and that clear, bright pink blossom. A very free bloomer, unlike its sulky Vancouver cousin. Behind, an old old fishhook barrel cactus who is determined never to bloom. Even for me. The Zick. The temerity of the plant! It cheerfully sank a spine deep into my index finger just before we went to Belize in December, and I enjoyed that spine the whole dang trip until it finally squidged its way out of my finger after a long snorkeling expotition, the sea acting as a big poultice. Whew! I recall saying to Bill, "You know what you can do with an infected cactus spine in your index finger?"
"No, what can you do?"
"Practically nothing."

You may remember the giant kalanchoe or paddle plant that was a-bloomin' four feet tall last time. Well, it got to the point where it was no longer an asset so I beheaded it and cut off its flaccid leaves, knowing it would sprout a much nicer more compact plant from the root. This, if you had not already picked it up, is the theme of this post: Beheading plants for their own good. That's a cutting behind it of Occold Embers, nicely rooted. It has a tomato-soup-red double flower.

I learned something this year. I learned a lot, actually. I learned that your beloved Garden Pod can blow clean away (well, it wasn't really clean, it was in smithereens) and that you will not only live through that unimaginable event, but make room in your schedule to spend weeks building something better and more beautiful. Yes, you will. Whether you liked the process or not, it would be worth it.

This one may yet blow away. I stood inside it as a 45 mph gale tore through and shook it last week, and it made some unearthly bangs and whumps as its deli-tray plastic windows flexed, and some weatherstripping came out, and the roof vent blew all the way open (Bill finally wired it shut with clothesline) but it did NOT blow away. That does not mean I'm looking forward to the next !@@#$#@$#@ derecho event, which had better not come the last week of June 2013, on the anniversary of the last derecho, while we're teaching The Arts of Birding at Hog Island Audubon Camp in Maine.

I am not going to think about that now. I am going to soak up a little more sun right here, right now.

We have had many salads off these seemingly everlasting, never-bolting Buttercrunch plants, planted last fall, outdoors. About to start a second guard of seedlings. What a feast only four plants can give! I just take the bottom tier of leaves each time and we have salad for four.

And the lyre-leafed fig bonsai is leafing out, having dropped all its leaves for much of the winter. I know how it feels. 

Sun. Soaking it up whenever I have the chance.


I love, love, love those geraniums. I can grow some great stuff here, but not geraniums.

I am so glad you are enjoying that greenhouse!

Kathy in Delray Beach

Posted by Anonymous February 28, 2013 at 4:17 AM

Hi Julie. Thanks for sharing these cheerful blooms with us. I am weary of the lack of sun as well, and looking forward to spring here in central Indiana. Looking at your greenhouse makes the think that a visit to one of our local conservatories just might be in order. Btw, I am already registered for the Arts of Birding Camp on Hog Island. This will be my second time-did Educator's Week in 2011. I'm looking forward to a great week of learning and to meeting you and Bill, as well as the other instructors.

Thanks so much for the pictures of your bright and cheery greenhouse. I also am very tired of the permacloud here in Southwest lower Michigan. The weather man says were are supposed to get some sunshine this weekend. I hope he's right.
Lynda in Michigan

There really are those of us who were waiting for an update on the growing things.

Every year I mean to have geraniums; this year for sure!

I put bungee cords on my GH windows, fastened to a sturdy bench that is on 4x4 posts and secured to the wall. A long bungee on the double doors has some 'give' but stays secure against the wind.

You should look for RV Awning straps. They are about 2.5" wide, and come with big stakes to be pounded into the ground. They then are adjusted to be snug. A couple of these should hold it down! It would be a shame to lose the eleventy-million loves to a danged wind...

@Julie Brown: That's fantastic! Can't wait to meet you! We'll have too much fun.
@ NellJean--bungee cords, one of my favorite things. Why didn't I think of that? I have like a hundred of them...Thanks!
@Laura: Brilliant! Strap 'er down. Couldn't hurt, might help. I know just the store that would have them. Thanks so much.
@Kathy: Yep, gerania like cool nights, hard to come by in Delray Beach. Amazing they're doing this well with essentially no sun.

Done here in Galveston, Texas, spring has already sprung. Roses are blooming, monarchs have already hatched and eaten down the new leaves on the Mexican Butterfly weed, leaves are coming out, the fruit trees are blooming, and the grass is growing fast enough to have to mow weekly. But I'll be envying you if I get stuck her after mid May.

Do wish we could have a longer geranium season. Loved getting to see yours.

I can almost smell those geraniums. How I long to smell growing things--though my snowdrops are up. Soon we'll smell herring spawn--the true sign of spring here on Vancouver Island.
thanks for stopping by the blog--just picked your comment up today (I'm a little sketchy on the blog diligence--you're a paragon!). Anyways, here's what I wrote, just in case you don't find it there:
moi aussi! (I'm trying to brush up my French, like a good little Canadian, these days). I still nurture a wild hope that you and I will spend time together again some time before we're old ladies. Meanwhile I stealthily keep track of you...

What a beautiful winter retreat you have! And an amazing green thumb

Lovely, lovely! Our indoor geraniums are in bloom right now and they bring me the most happiness.:) We're so happy to flip the calendar along today!

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