They tease me by calling it ‘Grandpa’s Shed’, but I can take it. The fact is I love it. I go into my little greenhouse in my little garden and feel liberated. I have a different relationship with the plants in pots, sharing this little roof. They are my dependents; they need me every day. They look up with doggy expressions. And I give their loyalty back.
For one thing plants on a bench are at the ideal level to touch and inspect. A fatigued flower or a less than sprightly leaf is obvious – and your fingers can take care of the problem straight away. You must, of course, conjecture about the roots; glass pots would be revealing; I wonder if anyone uses them – keeping them in some sort of sleeve, of course. They wouldn’t like light.
We’ve just moved the plants I’ve been nurturing for the house in the hope that they’ll do their stuff at Christmas. Our favourite cream-flowered cymbidium has had its summer in the shade and recently six weeks in my shed. Now it’s the centrepiece of our little library table, among piles of books, and the excitement is spotting the flower-spikes as they start to emerge; six so far.
The Veltheimia has served for twelve Christmases now, still in its original glazed pot. Its gloriously glossy and wavy deep-green leaves are an ornament as soon as they appear in September. At the moment it sits under the glass roof of our north-facing verandah, its flower spikes of pale pink bells forming, keeping company with a Sasanqua camellia called ‘Paradise Pearl’ full of promising pink and white buds. Perhaps sasanquas are not quite as showy as most camellias, with smaller, less glossy leaves a little like a phillyrea, but they start flowering in autumn.
Meanwhile in my shed a seven foot standard Fuchsia boliviana that lives outside in summer, dangling scarlet bells, shelters for the winter among various pots I pity, and the Ozzie Hardenbergia violacea clambers up into the roof, preparing (I hope) to turn purple in February.