Hartley Magazine

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

Outdoor Rooms

The unpredictability of the British summer has made me look at the greenhouse with fresh new eyes. First and foremost of course, it’s a protective space to grow, a place to sow and grow seedlings early and late in the season, extending the growing season so it joins at both ends. But it is also a haven from the weather. Whether your greenhouse just has a stool on which to perch or space for a comfy armchair, it’s just so much better than a shed. It’s warmer, lighter and should be full of beautiful plants in various stages of growth adding to the whole ambience.

Forget the few summer moments when the greenhouse is too hot for comfort; with auto vents and efficient shading it’s generally not an issue, and let’s face it we haven’t had that sort of summer for some time now (well maybe there’s a heat wave on its way right now). Then there are the winter months when it’s so cold outside that on the journey to the greenhouse you can almost suffer frostbite. But these are the extremes and greenhouse gardeners simply rise to the challenge. For the rest of the year the greenhouse is a haven. Just getting inside and out of the relentless wind (or rain) can make a huge difference and enable you to get plenty of sowing and growing done under glass. Gardeners are well used to making the most of every sunny moment. The faintest hint of summer has us gardening until dusk, and where possible, enjoying the fruits of our labour, maybe even dining outside, barbecuing and throwing impromptu parties. Rumour has it that summer is finally here. With the long, light evenings, it’s the perfect time to enjoy the garden but whatever the weather you can make the greenhouse a place to not just grow plants, but to relax, entertain and more.

The greenhouse itself, however large or small, grand or minimalist has the potential to become a room outside. Dress it up or down to create your own special place and fill it with plants and accessories that personalise the space for you. Make it a greenhouse/conservatory, filled with the plants of your dreams. The greenhouse doesn’t have to be just practical, it can be pretty too and can become a perfect destination for a meeting with neighbours, afternoon tea or just an excuse for a G n T escape at the end of a long day.

It’s the perfect spot for a sneaky cup of coffee away from the telephone and bustle of daily life, or a catch up with the girls (or boys) when the opportunity allows. A few occasional chairs (folding is good), some scatter cushions and candles can transform it into a magical evening space deep in the midst of the garden.

Don’t forget to prepare it for the cold weather too, so it can serve all year round. Mains electric or solar can power lighting and under floor heating for the winter, you can even install a wood burner into the structure with certain safety considerations.

Soften the space between your glasshouse and the garden with a canopy or pergola linking spaces that can be used for al fresco dining, or simply to extend your outdoor living area. It’s the perfect way to integrate a glasshouse into the garden and make the most of the summer whatever the weather.

Check out the Architectural Glasshouse range from Hartley Botanic, designed to reconnect people with nature and inspired by the architecture of ancient Rome and Persia.