A Winter that calls for a Greenhouse

Babiana curviscapa

Babiana curviscapa

The weather has been crazy cold for us this year.  Extended low temperatures beyond recent memory.  The ice storms last week left a lot of people without power but we were fortunate in only being out of power for four hours.  Actually we were doubly fortunate in being out in California for ten days so we mostly read about the cold weather while we were in our shirtsleeves enjoying the sunshine.

Our place of refuge with this kind of winter has been the greenhouse.

Greenhouse in the snow

Greenhouse in the snow

From within the greenhouse we can generally count on 60 degrees or more on a sunny day no matter how could it is outside.

Greenhouse on the coldest days

Greenhouse on the coldest days

Part of what I’ve been doing in the greenhouse is planting all the seeds from the various seed exchanges I’m involved in (the Scottish Rock Garden Club, The Alpine Garden Society, the North American Rock Garden Society, The Species Iris Group of North America) and some unusual seeds from Alplains in Colorado and The Gothenburg Botanical Garden.  I’ve been iterating on the seed mix and the pots that I use, now pretty much tending to 3 1/2 inch pots that are extra deep with a mix of sand, miracle-gro potting mix, and turface.  I lay the seeds out on the surface and then cover them with medium sized gravel.

Planting from seed exchanges

Planting from seed exchanges

So far I’ve planted 97 separate species and cultivars with another 34 in hand for planting.  The first ones were put in on January 18th and the draba and dianthus are sprouting.  This is an enjoyable part of the season just to see what has popped up each day.

An interesting encounter in the greenhouse a couple of weeks ago came from looking closely at a pot of Herbertia (relatives of Tigridia and Cypella) which seemed to be going very dormant.  I was uncertain as to whether the Herbertia tigridioides that I planted last May was actually going dormant or just dying off.  When I lifted the pot I noticed a little bulb trying to escape the pot.

Herbertia tigridioides moving outside the pot

Herbertia tigridioides moving outside the pot

When I emptied out the pot I found that not only was the Herbertia not dying but it had grown quite vigorously over the summer.

Herbertia tigridioides

Herbertia tigridioides

Herbertia tigridioides

Herbertia tigridioides

Apparently these are bulbs that like to dig themselves in deep.  I’ve separated them into several deeper pots and we’ll see how they do with flowering this year.

We’re expecting another 10 inches or so of snow tonight so I may have to content myself with the greenhouse for a while longer.  We did get to visit Anza-Borrego while we were in California last week so I will leave with a tidbit from that trip and a promise of more to come.

Arizona Lupine

Arizona Lupine

 

 

 

 

 

One comment on “A Winter that calls for a Greenhouse

  1. Frank

    60 degrees, growing plants, and sunshine. You really make a good argument for a greenhouse.
    I’m hoping with the stronger sunshine and longer days spring will be soon making a hostile takeover bid. I’m all for it!