I bring flowers to brighten you day, especially if you are living in the snowbound Northeast or upper Midwest. The flowers shown are grown by my wife. Her passion is growing flowers. There seems to be a desire in everyone to be creative. For me, I write fiction for my enjoyment and for the enjoyment of my readers.My wife grows flowers. During our 47 years of marriage, her collection of house plants has expanded. Now everyone knows that plants need light so houseplants migrate toward windows in the winter. Shortly after we moved in, I built a set of plant shelves to fit in the east facing 6 foot slider. It filled fast and eventually we had houseplants in all east and south facing windows as well as under the skylight in the kitchen. She egged me into building a greenhouse for her Christmas present. Christmas of 2012 she got her greenhouse, but it was not fully functional until this fall. Enjoy the fruits of her green thumb.
Geraniums love the light of the greenhouse. My wife has red, pink and white geraniums, but only the red and pink one’s caught my attention.
Mums bloom outside well into the fall, but they like the greenhouse and bloom all winter. This plant was a scraggly little pot full of green when my wife brought it into the greenhouse in the fall. She has grown more beautiful mums, but I like this one for the spunk it shows, and it is the only yellow flower in the greenhouse.
My wife started growing Christmas cacti when my
mother gave her some cuttings. I think they are her favorite. The one at the left is two cacti growing in one pot which explains the pink blossom in the middle of all those white blossoms. Some plants are pink while others are white. They are supposed to bloom at Christmas, but may bloom at any time from early fall to early spring.
The hibiscus is actually a shrub. Most indoor gardeners keep them well pruned back. My wife’s plant grows in a bushel-basket size pot. It enjoys the back yard in the summer. It used to winter over in a south window. It grew, but did not thrive. This winter, in the greenhouse, it is producing a continuing display of blossoms just like during the summer.
Amaryllis is a plant that grows from a bulb. Usually it produces four flowers on top of a tall stalk. Over the years, my wife has grown a number of amaryllis plants of different colors. They are relatively easy to grow, even with marginal light. Of course this one likes the greenhouse even though it must share the space with other plants.
I am a vegetable gardener so I do not completely understand my wife’s drive to grow plants we can not eat, but I suspect it is similar to my drive to write. Her efforts create beauty we all enjoy, and it is a form of creativity that spurs her on. I submit that we all need a creative part of our lives.
The greenhouse is an 8 foot by 12 foot lean-to style greenhouse attached to the east side of our house. It covers an existing 6 foot sliding door into the living room. This gives us easy access and a view of the flowers. I designed the greenhouse in collaboration with Merle Yoder, a local Menonite shed builder who runs Yoder and Sons Sheds. Construction was done by the Yoder boys. We are all pleased by the results.
The base of the greenhouse is pressure treated lumber on a concrete slab. End walls are frame construction with windows, doors and insulation. Both walls are wired with electrical outlets. The insides of these walls are covered with the fiberglass plastic sold to finish off bathroom interiors. The east wall and roof have struts of varnished redwood on 2 foot centers. These struts support the polycarbonate glazing.
Glazing is 16 mm, three ply polycarbonate Polygal sheeting. I purchased it from a local plastics supplier. It is strong and has good insulating properties. The Yoder boys installed the polycarbonate sheeting. I did wiring, caulking and painting. The total cost was competitive with commercial kits of much smaller size.
Our weather is relatively mild, but occasionally nights get down to 12 F. I have a 125 watt infrared light controlled by a thermostat (on at 32 F, off at 45 F). Only on the coldest nights does the light come on. We have had no problems with frozen plants.
All plants pictured were grown by Gay Conger. Photos are by Reynold Conger.
Visit Reynold Conger’s web page.