The Greenhouse as a safe space to grow

A bespoke Edwardian greenhouse to meet the diverse needs of a busy family.

It’s a beautiful, rural spot with an interesting history. Adjacent to a former sand quarry, the area was originally developed as an “educational and recreational rural retreat” for children attending inner-city schools. Then, during WWII, it was commandeered for the housing of young evacuees escaping the bombing of nearby Liverpool docks. A boarding school came next and, finally, a nightclub – which our parents went to! Since the closure of the club, an exclusive development of bungalows has replaced the barracks-style wooden huts of the past, and our clients, along with their 3 sons, have called this home for the last 9 years.

A property of generous proportions with a distinct air of calm and space. It provides a safe and secure environment for the elder son who uses a wheelchair, and it was his needs which both inspired the idea of a greenhouse and helped inform the design of it and the surrounding garden.

Our clients discovered us online as they searched for manufacturers of traditional greenhouses designed to suit a brick base. A previous project found on our website was the initial inspiration. The portal-framed aspect of our Victorian specification with its slightly more ornate detailing really appealed. But the budget needed to include ramped paving to allow wheelchair access, and raised beds for a more practical working height for all gardeners involved, so we proposed various alternatives that better met their combination of needs.

The solution was to switch to the Edwardian specification. Far from being a compromise, offers all the period ambience our clients were looking for, within a more practical budget. The flexibility our Edwardian specification also offers, enables us to modify many aspects of the design. Opting for a steeper 45-degree roof pitch gave our clients the aesthetic they were looking for without breaking the bank.

You can find out more about the difference between our Edwardian and Victorian specifications here.

Ridge cresting is a decorative feature synonymous with the more elaborate Victorian times, and used on the original project that had inspired them. Our clients felt adding this to the Edwardian design helped achieve the more decorative look they were keen on. And opting for the upgraded colour-matched steel guttering helps avoid the distraction of the purely functional.

As with all bespoke projects, we conducted a site survey once the base work was complete. With the ground being largely sand, local builders recommended a substantial concrete pad to support the base of the greenhouse. Not usually necessary as far as our greenhouse is concerned. But an example of how your local builder can advise more specifically where your individual project is concerned. For our clients, using trusted trades people meant peace of mind where this aspect of the project was concerned.

Searching for activities for their son that are both engaging and fun, gardening is relatively new to the whole household. The whole family are on this learning curve. The internet and books are guiding them, and there’s a collective philosophy to “eat what they grow”. Seasonal vegetables take up much of the raised beds surrounding the greenhouse. Leeks, garlic and onions were the big success from last winter. Replaced now by mange tout, beans, carrots, peas and courgettes once the weather warmed up.

Great delight is had when new potatoes spill out from the earth. The meditative action of shelling peas…

There has been much to learn from too. The ever-present desire to plant too closely or sew all the seeds in one go – familiar to all gardeners! War has been declared on the once innocent feathered friends; the pigeons. Although they currently have the upper “wing” where the brassicas are concerned. The greenhouse is now the focal point in this corner of the garden. At once productive and a source of calm. The raised vegetable beds and the citrus fruit either side of the greenhouse porch, are only the start of it. There are already plans to add more raised beds and chickens will be moving in soon. As soon as they find a way to keep Mr Fox out.