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Archive for the ‘The Greenhouse’ Category

My 8 x 8′ Dream

When Husband and I decided to move to Maine, I was thrilled in every way. Beautiful scenery, lower cost of living, the pervasive atmosphere of New England common sense, seafood, and best of all, no humidity. And as Husband is an artist, our move to a lively arts community in midcoast Maine made all the sense in the world. However, friends and family were worried about my potential for happiness here, for one reason alone: the shorter growing season. As an avid gardener, it was assumed that my moving from Zone 6 to Zone 5 would break my heart.

Not a chance. First, I am a four-season gardener. I plant, I grow, I preserve, and I press flowers. I do a lot of reading about gardening. So a growing season that was truncated on both ends held no regret. We were moving to a town with a climate tempered by the ocean, and as I am particularly fond of hardy herbs and rugged roses, everything I wanted to grow was acclimated to the zone. So, I anticipated zero impact on my gardening activities.

Husband loves to indulge this passion. And so, despite our being on a strict we-just-moved budget, he presented me with an incredible gift for Mother’s Day: a greenhouse!

And not just any greenhouse. It was a Grandio Elite, with a “premium package.” (Intrigued?! Check out: http://www.grandiogreenhouses.com/

I held the brochure in my hands, and looked through the instructions for assembly. It was to be a beautiful structure of wavy corrugated walls, two windows that opened and closed on their own according to the temperature, and dark green metal framing. I was looking at 8 x 8’ of glory: planting seeds in the early spring, growing summer tomatoes safe from insects, reading in a dry warm place in the winter or during a rain storm, and I was looking at a room of my own. (Virginia Woolf never had it so good. In fact, if she’d had a greenhouse, I suspect she might have had a happier ending.)

The journey from a set of instructions to a finished structure took time, as it was just Husband doing the majority of the work, and me doing the toting, holding, and providing both inspiration and lunch, but it was always time well spent.

Here is what happened:

THE BASE

It started at the bottom, as most worthwhile enterprises do. The foundation was a big task, and as Husband is meticulous, this took a bit of time. He dug down 15 inches, laid one cubic yard of gravel (over 2,800 pounds) in the foundation and up to grade around the four 8 x 8’s of treated lumber. That bed of gravel, and those level sturdy beams were a beautiful sight.

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Husband, an artist as well as a craftsman, used 6 cement blocks reclaimed from the overgrown garden out front to create a patio for the greenhouse. Ultimate purpose: a base for two garden chairs that we will use to gaze both inside the greenhouse and out to the flowering beds.

And so, the base had a foundation that was loose and porous, and a patio that was solid and sturdy. Once again, I was struck by the analogies between gardening and true love. While Husband and I have had our moments of shifting gravel, we always seem to find those nice solid places to rest and regroup.

Here is photo of me actually doing something more concrete than providing inspiration: I am screwing the base of the greenhouse to the timber foundation.

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Base laid, it was time to start on the assembly of the front wall.

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THE WALLS

Somehow, seeing the walls come together made this all real for me. The instructions couldn’t have been simpler, and even though the number of pieces was daunting, the labeling was good, and we just took it slowly.

One piece at time! Here is the peak of the front wall:

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This shows the front wall resting on the lush weeds. These weeds will, hopefully, be replaced by a bed of daisies and a border of winter savory, lady’s mantle, and hyssop edging the lovely rock ledges in the garden.

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Husband has the front wall in place. MacKenzie, the gentle girl, is sniffing for deer beyond the rock wall.

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And – with the front and back walls in place, the day came to an end. The afternoon light in my garden is lovely, in every season.

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THE ROOF AND WINDOWS

Here comes the roof! Braces installed, coffee cup perpetually in the foreground, and ladders at the ready.

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Which is prettier: that deep blue Maine sky, or those roof panels?

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Here come the windows. I confess I never dreamed my greenhouse would include windows that opened and closed on their own. Luxury! With two home businesses to run, and an enormous house to keep up, in addition to my two dogs, three kids, and large garden, having something take care of itself is…luxury.

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The eastern window – opens!

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As does the western window! Another good day comes to an end.

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COMPLETED

With the greenhouse completed, I spent a lot of time going in and out of the building, and smiling a LOT.

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My beautiful greenhouse, in the setting sun. I have such plans for you!

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EPILOGUE

One happy construction day ended with me photographing the setting sun through the corrugated walls. The wavy view makes it look like I’m a much better photographer than I actually am. Bonus!

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Bonus #2: As soon as the walls were up, I moved a potted clematis indoors. The warmer climate inside encouraged the vine to bloom. I had my first blossom in the autumn! Double bonus!

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And, a few weeks after the greenhouse was completed, Husband presented me with a birthday gift to go along with my Mother’s Day gift: A seed-starting table. Double decker, and a triple bonus!

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I have ordered my seeds for the spring, and I am eagerly looking forward to starting them inside my greenhouse. I visit the greenhouse almost every day – shoveling through the drifts of snow to reach it, and I have always found the temperature warmer and the air moister than that outside. The dogs always accompany me in, and then look puzzled. “Why don’t we go back outside to play?” they seem to say. “There’s nothing here.”

I answer them, “That’s what you think. Just wait….”

WORDS FROM OTHERS

“Who loves a garden loves a greenhouse too.”

– William Cowper, English poet, 1731-1800

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