Hartley Magazine

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





Hartley Botanic’s impressive 1958 glasshouse for The Royal Floral Hall, Rhyl – the glasshouse showcases the company’s original, ‘clear span’ aluminium greenhouse design
Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons’ bespoke Hartley Botanic Grand Manor glasshouse in Oxfordshire

This year, Lancashire-based greenhouse and glasshouse manufacturer Hartley Botanic is celebrating its 80th anniversary – marking 80 years of making its stunning handmade, made-to-order horticultural buildings, with its team still working from the original factory at the base of the dramatic Pennines’ Chew Valley in Greenfield. Founded in 1938, the company is one of Britain’s oldest and most trusted greenhouse manufacturers and, was to our knowledge, the first to develop and make entirely aluminium structures, representing a new class of greenhouse building in terms of practicality and engineering design. Since then, Hartley Botanic has built a name and reputation amongst the horticultural elite synonymous with excellence, receiving commissions from some of the UK’s most eminent gardeners, designers and horticultural institutions. In February last year, The Royal Horticultural Society officially recognised the company’s enduring commitment to British craftsmanship by endorsing its entire product range[1].

Despite being the ‘Aston Martin’ of the greenhouse and glasshouse world, never compromising on its commitment to first-class quality, the company still maintains its northern charm and down-to-earth customer service. Whether customers are ordering a small patio greenhouse or an impressive Victorian Grand Manor glasshouse, the factory has an ‘open door’ policy with customers able to come and see its products being handmade, or just enjoy a northern brew.

Founded in 1938 by brothers Vincent and Norman Hartley

The finest greenhouses money can buy…

The Headlamp Cowl invented by Vincent Hartley which helped save lives during the WW2 Blitz
A press advertisement in The Greenhouse Magazine from 1959

Hartley Botanic was founded in 1938 by brothers Vincent (RHS fellow) and Norman Hartley. Irrepressibly ingenuous, Vincent created many of the iconic products used during the war years. His inventions included a headlight cowl used to mask car lights during the blitz, ‘everlasting’ aluminium plant tags and the Hartley

[1] In February 2017 The Royal Horticultural Society endorsed Hartley Botanic’s entire product portfolio. Of the endorsement Cathy Snow, RHS Licensing Manager commented; “The RHS has long admired and enjoyed the work of Hartley Botanic with the manufacturer winning numerous accolades at our RHS Chelsea Flower Show and providing spectacular greenhouses for some of our most visited gardens, including RHS Hyde Hall, RHS Garden Harlow Carr and RHS Garden Rosemoor. With 80 years of heritage in producing a truly extraordinary range of greenhouses, the quality of which has never wavered, this endorsement is truly well deserved.”

‘safeboil’ which prevented the boiling over of milk. His crowning achievement however came when he created a solely aluminium and glass greenhouse, marking a huge step forward from its wood and wrought iron Victorian counterparts. In using aluminium, Vincent and Norman Hartley were able to create a greenhouse which both maximised light and celebrated design. They were the first to employ aluminium purlins and joints to create spacious, elegant interiors free from internal bracing, presenting an optimum area for natural light. Their aim was to create structures which were beautiful, clean, uncluttered and practical, principles which are still clearly evident in every greenhouse built by the company today.

As well as their engineering and design vision, Vincent and Norman Hartley set about producing ‘the finest greenhouses money can buy.’ Hartley Botanic stands firmly behind this founding standard, maintaining it through an uncompromising approach to craftsmanship and very personal customer service.

Greenhouses of the highest quality, handmade and made to order

“…to say that the greenhouse is well designed is an understatement…” (customer testimonial)

The construction of a ventilation cowl
Precision parts are still best made by hand and using vintage, hand operated machinery

All Hartley Botanic’s greenhouses and glasshouses, whether a Victorian Grand Manor or a small lean-to, are handmade to order using the finest materials and represent the highest level of engineering design. From the stainless-steel fittings and durable polyester powder coated finish, to its extruded aluminium alloy sections, each element of a Hartley Botanic greenhouse speaks of fine workmanship and a commitment to enduring strength, longevity and performance.

Every Hartley Botanic greenhouse and glasshouse is unique, designed in collaboration with the customer and according to their individual needs. The company offers different model styles, from traditional to contemporary, which are individually customised according to any number of factors, from the garden site to growing requirements and design taste. Tasteful colour options are available such as Verona Stone and The Olive Leaf, as well as internal glazed partitioning to create different growing zones. Accessories such as staging, shelving, decorative finials and integrated aluminium cold-frames also further personalise this most individual of garden buildings for ‘extending the growing season at both ends.’

Lasting quality

“I realise that the greenhouse is over 33 years old…it is in remarkably good condition…maybe you should not make them so well as they appear to outlast their customers!..” (customer testimonial)

A customer’s 1950s V&N Hartley Ltd Semi-dodekagon 9 greenhouse in full working order and showcased at the RHS flower shows last year
Hartley Botanic offers a 30 year ‘lifetime’ guarantee covering the structure and installation of its greenhouses and glasshouses – a formal acknowledgement for customers of their longevity

In a throwaway age Hartley Botanic makes greenhouses and glasshouses which truly stand the test of time and, as such, become heirlooms for generations of families. The company are regularly contacted by customers requesting small parts for their decades-old greenhouses which are still providing excellent service. This longevity of use is even experienced by customers who dismantle and reinstall their greenhouses within a new property, and sometimes abroad. Some of Hartley Botanic’s original structures  are also still standing and in full use, such as the Hartley Botanic greenhouse at Belgrave Hall, installed in 1950 and the glasshouse in Glasgow Botanical Gardens installed in 1988. The company offers a 30 year ‘lifetime’ guarantee which covers both the structure and installation of its greenhouses and glasshouses, a formal acknowledgement for customers of the reality of their longevity. Customers purchasing a Hartley Botanic greenhouse or glasshouse are making an investment which will stand the test of time, span generations and be robust enough to travel well.

Customer service that goes the extra mile with an experienced team

“They were most courteous and friendly….tools were collected and cleaned etc – when others might have ‘headed home’ as darkness fell.” (customer testimonial)

Some of the team working at Hartley Botanic’s Greenfield factory have worked there for over 20 years. The oldest member of the team, David Littlewood, has been at the company for 50 years and still uses original, hand-operated machinery to make precision parts. It is partly this highly experienced and loyal team which is behind the company’s success and its old-fashioned levels of customer service. The company prides itself on the fact that ‘the first cost is the last’ when buying a Hartley Botanic greenhouse and on its 360 degree service following purchase – full support offered at the conception, design and installation stages. Hartley Botanic also offers an exemplary, long-term commitment to customers’ needs for the lifetime of their greenhouse, which in most cases is for many, many years.

Looking to the future…

A Hartley Botanic bespoke lean-to, Connecticut
A Hartley Botanic bespoke Victorian Villa ¾ lean to, Massachusetts

Hartley Botanic’s beautiful, British greenhouses and glasshouses are hotly in demand in international markets, including a strong customer following in the US and Europe. The company is committed to its British manufacturing heritage and makes all of its greenhouses and glasshouses in its Lancashire factory.

All Hartley Botanic’s greenhouses and glasshouses are handmade, bespoke and made to order. Customers interested in purchasing a Hartley Botanic greenhouse should visit: http://www.hartley-botanic.co.uk or call 01457 819 155 for more information.