Our first move when we arrived in this London house with its little London garden was to build a greenhouse. It’s only tiny: about nine foot square (and we didn’t build it; Alitex did). It takes up a quarter of the west side of the garden, leaning on the wall, flanked by the centre path. I knew it would be useful, but I had no idea how much pleasure it would give me, especially in winter. It makes some sort of garden business, however pootling, possible – and indeed both a necessity and a pleasure – every day.
I keep it full of green. The pelargoniums have virtually stopped flowering, and following the classic instructions I should be cutting them back and taking cuttings for next year. I’ve taken some cuttings, but have kept the handsome little bushes intact to enjoy their leaves, crowded together with cyclamen (whose seedlings invade their pots, and any available medium), early bulbs, an iris or two, the still-towering Brillantaisia (which has only just lost its last salvia-style flowers), fuchsias (quiescent but elegant) and the nimble Hardenbergia, swarming up into the roof ready to flower in February.
More pots, to fill the floor, will be coming in shortly, or whenever winter shows any sign of arriving. Fuchsia boliviana is the tallest, a good six feet: then Tulbaghia, Clivia and anything else I take pity on. My daily routine is examining all the leaves and stems for any sign of a bug or fungus and feeling the pots to judge whether to add a drop of water. Half an hour well spent – or on dozy days even an hour.