The Greenhouse in February

I have been promising a February greenhouse post and here it is at last. I planned my greenhouse as a refuge from the cold weather and last year it was very welcome as we cowered from the fearsome Beast from the East. But this February we don’t need a refuge as we join the butterflies and bees and bask in the sun.

As I was imagining cold and possibly ice and snow, I planned a sensory overload of colour and scent for winter.  I wanted it all in Disney technicolor. So I have pots of incredibly vulgar primroses primped and frilly or oversized in the brightest, clashing colours.

For plant connoisseurs who are pursing their lips and shuddering in disgust I have to point out that these primroses would never be allowed in my garden. And I agree that the simple primrose cannot be improved upon. But in February I want colour in my greenhouse and lots of it.

Primula veris in the garden.

Much more refined are my little pots of Iris reticulata and Iris histrioides hybrids. They are in the most exquisite jewel colours. Each year I try some different ones.

Grape Hyacinths come in some delicate colours. This is baby blue Muscari ‘Jenny Robinson’ found and named after Jenny who lived just down the road and was a renowned gardener. I also grow ‘Valerie Finnis’ and I can’t really see much difference although ‘Jenny Robinson’ has slightly broader leaves.

Muscari ‘Jenny Robinson’

I have just one pot of crocuses. ‘Miss Vain’  is pure white with bright orange stamens. Unfortunately mice ate all the others but I saved this one by putting a pane of glass over it. Next year I will cover all my crocus pots.

Crocus ‘Miss Vain’

I love the little early narcissi.

The last one Narcissus ‘Bridal Crown’ is of course the tall ‘Bridal Crown’ grown for fragrance.

Pots of hyacinth fill the greenhouse with perfume too and they can be planted in the garden when they get that rank smell as they go over.

Jasmine polyanthum is in bud and will soon be filling the greenhouse with a heady scent.

Jasminum polyanthum

And I always dig up  up a little clump of Lily of the valley to force for the delicious early scent.

Convallaria majalis

I love the dusty fragrance of mimosa which always reminds me of Provence because I brought the seed back with me from the wonderful mimosa forest in Le Massif de l’Estéral.


Fritillaria  michaelovskyi is is a charmer with brown bells edged in yellow.

Fritillaria michaelovskyi

Veltheimia bracteata comes from South Africa but it seems very happy in my greenhouse It grows from a big bulb and always blooms in winter. It looks just like a pink Red Hot Poker, but nicer.

Veltheimia bracteata

And talking of big bulbs, of course I have a few hippeastrums, this is the current one, I forget its name. Having them in the greenhouse means you can hide their ridiculously long giraffe necks.


I love the little bird- like faces of  the climbing Tropaeolum tricolor which are now opening.

Tropaeolum tricolor

I don’t know how hardy Grevillea rosmarinifolia would be in the garden but I don’t risk it. In the greenhouse it is just coming into bloom.

Grevillea rosmarinifolia

I don’t have the acid soil to keep Pieris japonica happy in the garden so a pot is the answer. This one is a lovely dark colour and is called ‘Valley Valentine’ which is very apt as it always starts blooming on Valentine’s Day.

Pieris japonica ‘Happy Valentine’

The succulents are overwintering here and under the benches are my nerines.

I have an electric fan heater which stops the temperature going below 5 degrees which is 41 f. There are cuttings and tender plants and plants which I have grown from seed, plants which are waiting in the wings for their moment of glory and goodness knows what else. Of course, I have run out of space and everything is crammed together higgledy -piggedly. But never mind, I love it even though in an ideal world, the plants would be more elegantly displayed in antique terracotta pots, all beautifully spaced out. But of course in the real world I have not enough space and this is just after one year. Goodness knows how I will manage next year.


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51 Responses to The Greenhouse in February

  1. krcc says:

    ALL so pretty and such bold colors!

  2. I love the exuberance of the plants you have collected in the greenhouse and your fierce passion for gardening. It knows no bounds. (And, oh, those little pots of iris are so enchanting!)

  3. susurrus says:

    The primroses are cheery – never vulgar, but I can understand why ‘Miss Vain’ is vain!

    • Chloris says:

      They are cheery aren’t they? But I’m not sure I’d want some of the big, blowsy ones for the garden. Great for the greenhouse though.

  4. Christina says:

    What a wonderfully colourful display and a fantastic selection of Iris. Where do you find so many different ones?

  5. Christina says:

    Btw Grevillea rosmarinifolia is pretty hardy, it survived outside in the garden last year when we suffered minus 10 or so degrees.

    • Chloris says:

      Yes, I used to have it in my previous garden but we had a series of mild winters so it did well, but I wasn’t sure if it would cope with a really icy spell. Anyway I am enjoying it in a pot until it gets too big.

  6. Sam says:

    What a feast for the senses. You can never have too much colour and scent at this time of year and you’ll be even happier you have all this when the weather returns to seasonal norms tomorrow 🙂

  7. Your greenhouse has been very successful. I don’t think you can ever have too much color.

  8. bcparkison says:

    Oh l love all of the colors of primrose but new to me is the narcissis on the bottom row middle. Cute!

  9. tonytomeo says:

    Are some disgusted with primrose? I do not grow them only because I am allergic to the sap. Otherwise, I like them in other people’s gardens. They are cool season perennials that are grown as annuals here. I have been wanting to grow Bolivian nasturtium for a long time, but I really do not know what to do with it. All the spots where it would fit into get occupied by common nasturtium first. I so love nasturtium.

    • Chloris says:

      We all love primroses but some of the over -hybridised ones have lost all the charm of the simple native primrose, Primula veris. They are considered rather vulgar by purists. But they are great for a blast of greenhouse pizzazz.
      I love nasturtiums too and this little climbing charmer is not quite hardy but lovely in the greenhouse.

      • tonytomeo says:

        Not as hardy? That is interesting already. In pictures, it looks so vigorous. I do not think I will like it as much as the familiar sorts when I finally get around to growing it, but I am intent on trying it anyway.

  10. Peter Herpst says:

    The Disney technicolor blooms and beautiful scents are a balm to winter-weary eyes and noses! Thanks for the tour of your greenhouse. It seems they can never be large enough to contain all of the plants we accumulate. Congratulations on your success with Tropaeolum tricolor!

  11. Brian Skeys says:

    I saw what I thought was a pink Kniphofia many years ago in the Belgium Royal Green Houses, I now know it was almost certainly Veltheimia bracteata. Always a source of knowledge Chloris, thank you

  12. Oh your greenhouse looks like a sanctuary of colour and scent Chloris and must be an absolute joy to take cover under at this time of year. How big is your glass palace?

    • Chloris says:

      Well, it’s not exactly a palace, it’s 8×10, I wish I could have bought a bigger one, but I suppose I’d say that however big it was. What I really want is something like the Palm House at Kew. Still, mustn’t be greedy and it gives me enormous pleasure at this time of the year.

  13. Kris P says:

    What a wonder your greenhouse is! My lath house is fine but you’re bringing back my greenhouse envy, especially given the colder than normal winter we’ve had this year. I wish I’d potted some primroses for my lath house, even if we don’t have a selection like yours available, but it’s too late for that as the plants are already on the wane here. I did plant a hanging basket of that same jasmine, however, and I’m patiently awaiting blooms on my Veltheimia.

    • Chloris says:

      Your lath house has been brilliant idea for letting you grow more plants hasn’t it? I am surprised you can grow primroses, I thought they needed cooler conditions.

  14. Heyjude says:

    ‘higgledy -piggedly’ it might be, but what a joyful space! I love all the different plants jostling for a space and you have now given me several irises to look out for next year and also the idea of growing a Grevillea in my conservatory. I know they can grow outside, but I don’t have a lot of room for shrubs. Thank you Chloris 😀

  15. Wow, a regular kaleidoscope of color. Love all the Primulas and Irises.

  16. Cathy says:

    Lovely! I was looking forward to seeing your spring greenhouse post and it didn’t disappoint! I love all those bright primulas and irises. Just the colour you need in February. I will definitely have to plant up lots of bulbs in autumn for forcing… hopefully my greenhouse will be up by then! 🙂

  17. What a lovely selection, including the primroses. They make a spectacular sight all arranged together. There are some really lovely irises too. They are so quick to go over, but they just fill the gap nicely between the snowdrops and crocuses. I love that white crocus and wonder if this is the identity of one clump of crocuses I have, with exceptionally orange anthers. Are you tempted to grow auriculas? I have promised myself that when I retire (still 10-15 years away!) I will become a mad auricula lady.

  18. snowbird says:

    How I wish I could camp out in your greenhouse for a few days!!!xxx

  19. Cathy says:

    This is glorious Chloris and even better seen for real. I got so many ideas from seeing it and have added some brash primulas already and will add iris next year. When do you dig up your l of the v? I have 3 different muscari which are all pleasingly in bud and what pleases me most is how blooms last so much longer in the cool. Thank you so much for sharing your infectious enthusiasm

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Cathy. And don’t forget some pots of little narcissi. For instance, Snow Baby and Gypsy Queen are so cute. I dig up the lily of the valley in late Autumn. The greenhouse smells divine right now.

      • Cathy says:

        Curiously, I checked my PN bulb order and find I have added some Snow Baby to the garden already – they will be at the back of the snowdrop border and of course are coming up now. I might dig a few up and put them in a pot for the Coop but will certainly buy more next year, especially as several bloggers have been enthusing about them

  20. rusty duck says:

    I am planning a new greenhouse this year so this post has been timely. I love all your bulbs and I think this makes sense for me too, given the difficulties of growing them outdoors. Thank you for all the ideas!

    • Chloris says:

      Ah yes, pots in the greenhouse are the way forward for you. But don’t forget, even in the greenhouse crocuses and tulips need panes of glass whilst they get going.

  21. bittster says:

    Love it, and I can now see where all the primrose flowers came from. they sure do light up the bench!
    I foolishly convinced myself I shouldn’t bother with many of the plants I grew under lights last winter. What a mistake, and now I’m suffering as I wait for seedlings and few bulbs to come along and give some color. Soon though, and hopefully it doesn’t all come at once as the snow melts and we go straight to summer!

    • Chloris says:

      Oh you need all your plants and seedlings under light to get you through your terrible winters. Gardeners need a special dispensation when it comes to winter. Hope you get your Spring soon.

  22. Hannah says:

    I absolutely love all the bold colours! Inspiring for Spring that feels like it is just around the corner and definitely is a feast for the eyes.

  23. What a feast for winter-sore eyes! And I must be a vulgarian, because I like all your pretty primroses and since our land is covered deep with snow, I’d take all of them in my garden right now!

  24. Question for you, Chloris: my cut roses (Valentine’s Day gift) are now faded, but each stem has green shoots. Is there any way to encourage their growth so I may plant them outside in April/May? Remember I’m in S. Ontario, so still in the grip of winter.

    • Chloris says:

      Yes I have an idea of something you could try. Cut the bottom of the stem at an angle. Make a hole in a potato just big enough to take the stem,. Push the stem firmly in the potato. Bury the potato in a large pot so that 3 inches of the stem is covered in compost. Make a little greenhouse out of a plastic water bottle. Then when the weather gets warmer you can plant it outside. With luck it will root in 4 to 8 weeks. Good luck!

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