Hartley Magazine

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

Greenhouse Books

In The Greenhouse with Lila Das Gupta

How do you use an auto-vent? When is the best time to damp down the greenhouse? Have I got too much condensation?
Whenever I’m new to a subject I like to enlist the help of experienced friends for advice, but I also like to bury myself in books (I know the internet is has everything on it, but as a friend points out, you still need books for ‘bed, bath, bog and bus’).

The overall winner has to be Dr Hessayon’s Greenhouse Expert.
Whether you like the retro design or not, there lots of practical information here, with advice on growing a wide variety of plants, bulbs and vegetables, also includes trouble-shooting and a calendar. Some of the flowering plants listed may not appeal to everyone, but you can never, go wrong with the Doctor. The abundance of information triumphs over design.

Growing Under Glass, Royal Horticultural Society guide written by Kenneth A. Beckett.
This book is also an essential guide if you are starting greenhouse gardening for the first time. No glossy pictures but lots of practical, technical information about setting up, how to manage a heated and unheated greenhouse, including a very useful year planner for both.

Greenhouse Gardening an Aura Garden Guide by Dietrich Mierswa.
I picked up this book, which is the most inexpensive of the lot, at a garden centre. This is a good pocket guide which stresses the importance of choosing mildew resistant varieties for the greenhouse. Useful set-up information for beginners.

The Greenhouse Gardener by Anne Swithinbank.

This is really a book to buy when you have one of the above, or you already know to manage a greenhouse, since the technical information is rather concise. The strength of this book lies in showing you all the different things you can grow in a greenhouse, with lots of useful photographs. Anne is also very much in touch with what gardeners today want to put into their gardens.

No library would be complete without golden oldies.

I bought an early black and white and a later, revised, colour edition of Percy Thrower’s ‘In Your Greenhouse‘. The information is still sound – though I doubt I’ll ever steam my own compost, but I love the pictures of Percy in his pipe, suit and tie, potting on chrysanthemums, no doubt listening to the radio.
The thing that strikes me that most is that it harks back to a time when men had hobbies. Work was work and play was play. Many companies today have significantly cut their workforce and expect employees to work much, much longer hours. Yet in many scientific study studies, it’s been found that people with hobbies live happier, longer lives. Now more than ever, we need to find time for the greenhouse in our lives.

I am listening to The Rough Guide to Bhangra Dance a surprisingly good way to keep fit in the kitchen while the kettle boils.

Next week the greenhouse is officially open.

  • I struggled to find good advice when I was setting up my greenhouse but I love Anne Swithenbank’s book especially as it has plants I hadnt heard of. However, I did find myself worrying inordinately about temperatures, condensation etc so ended up deciding to trust my instincts and it seems to be working.

  • emma t

    oooh I am going to get the Bhangra CD