Garden re-design part 2: choosing a greenhouse

A key part of my garden overhaul right from the start has been getting a proper greenhouse. At the moment I have two of those “greenhouses” that are effectively four small layers of staging with a plastic zip-up cover. They are on my patio in a sheltered spot and have been useful to over-winter tender-ish plants and grow on some seedlings, but space, light, flow of air and access to get in to water are all limited.


One of the first considerations was siting the greenhouse. I have a small garden so options were fairly limited. I think I’ve always seen greenhouses as being highly desirable from a practical perspective, but as a part of the ‘working’ aspect of the garden you tend to want to hide away as much as you can like tool stores and compost heaps. So, originally I was going to put it into the furthest (which is not very far) corner.

But with fairly tall laurel hedging on two sides of the garden, and a plan to add more hedging on the third side, this would have significantly reduced the amount of light getting into the greenhouse. It would also have made access around the outside of the greenhouse for repair (or for hedge cutting) more difficult. And given the size of my garden, I wasn’t going to be able to ‘hide’ the greenhouse wherever I put it.

Plus, once I started to look at which greenhouse to buy, I realised it could actually be much less of an eye-sore than I’d envisaged and perhaps even an attractive structural feature.

Greenhouse in the Geoff Hamilton Garden, Ryton Organic Gardens

I’ve spent a long time researching my choice of greenhouse. I love the look of the classic Victorian-style wooden glasshouse- even more so when they are on top of a dwarf wall of aged brick.


But there are drawbacks to wood- the main one being the price. A wooden greenhouse seems to be about double the cost, and if I were to have a dwarf walled one I’d have to buy bricks and pay a builder. I’ve built one small (three courses) retaining brick wall in my life, but creating a wall to exact measurements for a greenhouse base isn’t something I’d really want to tackle.

Wood also needs a lot more maintenance and the frame is more prone to gaps and movement which can cause leaking and slippage of the glass. It can also hold more moisture making the environment inside more humid.

Greenhouse at Ryton Organic Gardens

Aluminium frames are cheaper, lighter and require much less maintenance. The down sides are that they don’t hold heat as well, and in my opinion they usually don’t look anywhere near as good.

However, it actually wasn’t too difficult after a bit of searching to find a couple of aluminium-framed greenhouses I did like, with a much more attractive curved roof, and a dark green frame that will look good against my cherry laurel hedge.

After more deliberation and very careful weighing of the costs of the greenhouse and accessories like staging and roof vents, plus installation fees, I went for the Vitavia Orion*, with an extra roof vent in addition to the  one that comes as standard, two automatic openers and staging along both sides. I chose an 8×6 feet which is big enough to grow plenty but not so big as to totally overwhelm the garden.

And here it is:

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I’m thrilled with it, and I spent hours in there the two days after it was installed, pricking out seedlings. I appreciated it especially when I was nice and dry in the rain, compared to how I used to do all this sort of gardening- on a table on the patio, open to the elements.

I’ll do a tour soon to show everything I’m growing in there- as you can see I’m making good use of it already.


* {This post is not sponsored}


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