Making the most of the winter greenhouse

This year my greenhouse is full of promising buds and strident foliage thrusting up from marbled terracotta pots – delightful even before the main display bursts forth.

Last summer this greenhouse bed was full of cucumbers, peppers, melons and egg plants. Usually I leave it empty over winter to rest, but this year I decided to plant up a dozen terracotta pots with various spring bulbs – nothing very exotic, just some dwarf narcissi, tulips and hyacinth. I’m glad I did.

Greenhouse_spring_bulbs_1

The automatic watering system has kept them ticking over with minimal attention, and as each pot comes into flower I move it indoors as a table display, into the porch or outside the front door as a welcome. The benefit of starting bulbs off in a cold greenhouse rather than outside, is that they suffer less from weather and pest damage and the slightly raised temperature brings them into flower a little earlier.

They’ll all be out the way before the first greenhouse crops go in in late April, but for now I am enjoying the quiet exuberance of it all.

Greenhouse_spring_bulbs_2

The pots are partially buried to help them retain moisture and protect them from frost damage on very cold nights – to protect the pots that is – not the bulbs – they are fully hardy. This winter cossetting has given many of the pots a delightful bloom of mineral salts, algae and mosses – a look I have admired in magazine photos but have found never spontaneously occurs with outdoor terracotta. There is something rather special about foliage emerging from the mouth of mottled stoneware like the photo below don’t you think?

I’m taking some nice indoor pics of each pot as it comes into flower. When they’re all done I’ll post a pretty gallery of them.

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