Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Valentine treat: Mid -Winter in a Greenhouse


Deer tracks in the snow show where a hungry buck gazed wistfully through the glass at the tasty-looking green plants inside your greenhouse. Squirrel and rabbit tracks betray the presence of other wistful watchers that would envoy your greenery even more than you. That’s why they’re called greenhouses – because in winter they remain green against a backdrop of bare trees and snow-laden ground. A trench shows where you dug through deep snow to get to your greenhouse and now you stand inside on a sunny winter day in a short-sleeved shirt, your heavy winter parka hanging on the door. This is greenhouse ownership at its best. It is a warm, green oasis in a sea of snow, a tranquil haven as north winds sweep across the frigid world outdoors.

The contrast is truly startling. You dig your way across a snowy landscape and step inside a tropical refuge. There you can plunge cold hands into warm soil, set about repotting plants, or just enjoy the earthy fragrance. Delightful warmth inside the glass, biting cold outside; citrus and flower scents on the inside, nose freezing winds on the outside. This dichotomy is one of the great pleasures of having a greenhouse.

Mandevilla Alice Depont
Mandevilla Alice Depont

As long as your greenhouse is adequately heated at night and a few lights compensate for the season’s short days, there is almost no limit to what you can grow even in the depths of winter. From your workbench you can see pink, trumpet-shaped mandevilla flowers hanging from a vine overhead. Below, a profusion of paperwhite narcissus, colorful pink and red Christmas cactus, and deep red amaryllis plants are in bloom. A lemon tree is flowering, too, adding another intoxicating perfume to the fragrant, humid air. Another orchid is coming into bud, its deep purple petals just showing.

On the workbench, ready to go indoors is a head of lettuce along with several red tomatoes, for a dinner salad, a few gourmet fingerlings sit in a bowl ready to be roasted in olive oil with a freshly cut rosemary sprig. While food production may not be the focal point of your greenhouse, you enjoy your organic, fresh vegetables year round.

bamboo valenite
Bamboo valenite

Color and fragrance abound in spite of the calendar. You enjoy the quiet, the aroma, the serenity of the small world that you have created.  AValentine to yourself. Savoring the moment, you putter around, enjoying the freedom and warmth, looking for things to do. A plant needs a little water; a few leaves need picking up; the flower spike on an orchid needs a cane and clip. You rearrange a few plants to give the smaller ones better access to the low winter sunlight. There isn’t much else requiring your attention, so you settle into a comfortable chair and just soak up your heady surroundings. As soon as daffodils bloom outdoors, your greenhouse will be filled with seedlings and the new season’s work will begin. You won’t have time then to enjoy it quite as much as during winter’s chill. Now is your Zen moment – just this peaceful oasis and you.