The Greenhouse/Sunroom

The time has come, the time is now, the greenhouse/sunroom needs to be explained.

Now blooming, Ascondenda ‘Duang Tdrn’, one of the vanda alliance.

(I don’t know what this orchid’s name means, those are the letters, they were copied as the tag read, that’s all I know).

Looking up at the shed, with a dusting of snow on the ground, there will be no gardening outside today. When those conditions are present and the hunger for gardening becomes overwhelming, we go to the greenhouse/sunroom, (from here on it will be referred to as the g/s), for fun with orchids and seeds.

Now we are up at the front of the shed looking down, before the snowfall. You can see the back of the main house. The back doorway, the vestibule, just to the right of the octagonal window, is a spot to get out the elements while taking muddy boots off, there is a bench on the right for seating and on the left is the storage can with secured lid which holds the birdseed. On the left end of the house you can see the patio doors in the master bedroom which offer lovely garden views from the bed or usually while seated on a loveseat facing out the back. To the right of the back door is the g/s. Five windows and two skylights give this space lots of light. The back of the house faces south, so the g/s gets the morning sun from the east side and hotter midday sun from the south.

Inside the vestibule you enter the mudroom, which is a hall with four doors and a wall of hooks and shelves for hanging jackets and stacking shoes and boots. The doors are the vestibule door, the door into the living room, the mudroom closet door and the g/s door. Looking into the g/s, the light from the windows and skylights always makes the photos taken when facing the outside more challenging, but you get the idea of the space.

Coming into the g/s and starting from the left side, there is a solid wall that backs to the closet in the mudroom. The door opens in and takes up most of that wall when open. In the corner of the eight by twelve room is the sink. We used the old kitchen sink from the main house saved from the renovation. There is a cabinet underneath for storage of seed starting mix and fertilizer for the orchids. There is a shelf above the sink that now is holding extra orchid pots. An old cutting board gives a work surface for the potting done to start the seeds.

Just to the right, attached to the faucet, is the coiled hose with a sprayer nozzle wand that does the misting and watering of all plants living in the g/s. A thermometer keeps us posted on how the temps are holding. We had a minimum-maximum thermometer but it malfunctioned and was pricey so this cheapo replacement was purchased and is satisfactory. This is the first winter that a space heater was not used in here. There is a vent in the wall at the top that supplies heat from the main house. The space heater was not reliable, sometimes over heating and actually killing the orchids, the temp once registered at 99 degrees when we returned home from a short trip away. Too much moisture was blamed, we were lucky there was no fire. Anyway, the orchids are loving the cooler night temps, and we are safer and the utility bill reflects that happiness as well.

Looking across from the sink to the south east corner, you can see the hanging bromeliad trellis and the top shelf of the paphs along with the seed trays.

The south west corner shows the ever present fan running and more seed trays.

Looking from the sink, you see the window out to the vestibule and the light switch.

Here is the entrance door, salvaged and painted in a jaunty color combo with a window to help light the mudroom.You have now seen all the walls of this tiny but useful room. Actually, the whole house is tiny but usefully designed.

Looking down, the floor is tiled and has a drain. This has proven to be a most useful item. The dark spots around the drain are potting soil, not something more sinister, although on occasion that appears and is promptly dealt with. The room is emptied after the weather has warmed for the season, usually sometime in May, and the whole room is scrubbed down. Sometimes it gets another coat of the outdoor paint that covers all painted surfaces. The walls are the green type of drywall used in bathrooms but still are regularly caulked for added moisture protection. Moisture is abundant here with nearly daily mistings from the coil hose wand, one reason the plants love it so.

The tray of swiss chard and ‘Bishop’s Children’ dahlia seedlings is growing nicely. We don’t use grow lights for the seed starting, maybe we should, but they will be okay once outside in the ground.

Celosia cristata has germinated. These were free seeds from Chiltern’s Seeds when the catalog was ordered. It will be a surprise what colors come of these, some look like they are going to be yellow.

The chicken grit has proven to be a good seed starting medium. Expensive but only a sprinkling is needed over top of the seed starting mix. This is white balloon flower, platycodon, from saved seed, beginning its germination. Hooray, the balloon flower’s blooms are long lasting and beautiful.

Dill on the left and basil ‘Spicy Globe’ on the right.

It is hoped that this is truly a dierama seedling just peeking up out of the mix at the very bottom of the photo. Sometimes seeds travel to random pots and mess up the identification process. The dierama is from the Chiltern Seed order.

Just to show that a g/s is not necessary to start seeds, this is one of the offspring’s windows, complete with her own nursery of seed starting paraphanalia. Thanks, semi!

P. Holdenii x Almenii

A main reason for the expense and work of the g/s, the bud emerging from one of the paphiopedilums. It will be at least two months before this becomes an open flower, soooo sloooow, but so worth it, just like the g/s.

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26 Responses to The Greenhouse/Sunroom

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    You have your own little room of paradise Frances. All of that light. Everything is so well thought out. I envy you your space esepcially this time of year.

  2. Frances, says:

    Lisa…Thanks, it is a room that brightens one’s moods. I am still thinking about you and Luna, may you all be well.

  3. Gail says:


    I love seeing your garden rooms.

    Don’t you love Chiltern’s Seeds catalog? The vegetable one this year was sweet…always great plants.

    Enjoy the day.


  4. Meems says:

    Frances: Tiny but useful indeed!What a great and wonderfully bright spot in the winter time and I’m sure is beautiful in the summertime as well. (What do you use if for once you empty it, scrub it down and re-paint?)

    I think I would have to have something of this sort if I lived where everything stayed white for very long. Your orchid in the top photo is delightful and all your seeds are doing very well. You’ve carved out lots of labor for yourself to begin real soon.:-)

    Loved your bird photos in the last post as well. I can’t get enough of watching and photographing the fun little creatures.

    Have a great day, Frances.

    Meems @ hoeandshovel

  5. Robin's Nesting Place says:

    You’ve definitely made great use of your garden sunroom. It is fun to see what you have growing.

    I’m especially interested in your balloon flowers since I collected seeds in the fall and plan to start them in the next few days.

  6. Frances, says:

    Gail…Thanks. This is our first year trying Chiltern’s and we love them. Same to you!

    Meems…Thanks. In the summer when the room is empty I bring a chair and table in for reading, and contemplating the garden, when it is too hot to enjoy the outdoors. Thanks about the birds too. I love to watch them and try and get a decent shot of them in action. Same to you also.

    Robin’s Nesting Place…Thanks. I am tickled so far with the germination of the balloon flowers, this is the first attemt from seed, saved or purchased. Next year I will save seed from the blue and pink ones as well. Good luck with yours.

  7. kate says:

    Hi Frances,

    I loved the tour of your greenhouse. What fun it was to see your surroundings – what the view to your house looks like and then the entire greenhouse. You have an amazing collection of orchids & bromeliads. Your seeds look as if they are most happy – I love the Swiss chard seedlings. What beautiful colours they are!

    And best, it was good to see that you’ve passed on your gardening knowledge to your offspring! That is really cool.

  8. semi says:

    I want your g/s room. Maybe one day. Those celosia are interesting. I can’t wait to see the plant. Seeds are so much fun I need have seed mania in the other window also. Always need more room for flowers. love semi. ps your orchids wonderful.

  9. Diana says:

    Frances –Thanks for the tour! What a fun room to experiment and grow beautiful, delicate things in the harshest of winters. It all looks so well planned. Do you love to just sit in there in the winter with the sun streaming in? That would be heaven.

  10. Katarina i Kullavik says:

    Your g/s room looks really nice. And your seeds seem well on their way, thanks to your tender care. I’d love to see a picture of that paphiopedilum when the flower opens…
    /Katarina at Roses and stuff

  11. Ewa says:

    your g/s looks very lovely and it must be a real joy especially at the months when gardening outside is not possible. I love the shelves of the windows 🙂 great idea.

  12. Frances, says:

    Kate…Thanks for your comment about the offspring, three our of four are gardeners, the fourth lacking a place to garden, but he will in time. I like your idea of returning comments from your own blog by coming to the blogs of those leaving a message.

    Semi…Thanks, your garden will be appearing more in the posts, I think! ;->

    Diana…Thanks. In the winter there is no room for sitting, it is full of plants, but I go in and putter, it lifts the spirits.The paph will hopefully be in a bloom day post when it opens.

    Katarina…Thanks, the shelves give the plants the sunniest position and leave room on the floor for me to get around.

  13. Frances, says:

    Ewa…Thanks. I think the answers to the comments got confused, your answer is directed to Katarina. Katarina is directed to Diana, so here is the answer to Diana, do forgive me, it is 4:40 AM.

  14. Layanee says:

    Thanks for that g/s tour! What a great and functional room! I will be starting a few things in a month or so. The winter is so long here and your seed starting so inspirational! Thanks again!

  15. Frances, says:

    layanee…Thanks for visiting. Seed starting has really helped here with beating the winter doldrums even though we are beginning to see spring blooms.

  16. Annie in Austin says:

    You don’t just talk about orchids, you dedicated an entire room to them, Frances! This had to take a lot of work and planning…having skylights and drains is so practical. Thanks for sharing this great space with us.

    And minute now I expect Nero Wolfe will walk in and hand out compliments ;-]

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  17. Frances, says:

    Annie…Thanks. I had to google Nero Wolfe, I knew he was a fictional detective but not what that would have to do with the g/s. Now I want to read every book, he sounds like my kind of guy!

  18. chuck b. says:

    Sigh…I yearn for a mudroom. Right now the garage is my mudroom, and I really hate all the mud I’ve dragged in to it. I have to get out the power-washer soon.

    You indoor garden is just as interesting and full of wonder as your outdoor garden!

  19. Frances, says:

    chuck b…Real mudrooms that can get muddy without causing a problem are without equal in usefullness. Our is very small, only 4 x 10, just a hall, but packed with shoe shelves, coat hooks on the wall and a tiny chair so you can sit down to take off the muddy boots and gloves. The floor is tile like the g/s. I love it.

  20. Blackswamp_Girl says:

    The first time I scrolled through here, I was envious over the seeds. And this time? I can’t get over that BEAUTIFUL trellis of tillandsias! WOW!!!

    I don’t know if I can come visit you anymore, Frances. You give me an inferiority complex. 😉

  21. Frances, says:

    Black Swamp Girl…Do come back for a visit, all is not that perfect here, believe me. Wait until the container post is up for the design workshop from Gardening Gone Wild for March, hardly envy worthy. Did you click to see the post on the bromedliad trellis, some didn’t like it but it sounds like you may be like me and love the tillandsias. ;->

  22. Aaron Jewett says:

    You have the perfect set up!!

  23. Frances, says:

    Aaron, thanks.

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