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