Life above freezing

Today as I went through the greenhouse, cleaning up fallen leaves and spiderwebs between plants that I haven’t moved in a while, the sun created a very comfortable and warm space for me to putter around in. After filling a 5 gallon bucket with leaf trimmings and debris, I started taking a survey of what I had inside those polycarbonate walls, enjoying those rays of sunshine with me.

I haven’t made a particularly huge effort this winter to put many things in the greenhouse. The big plans that I have for the garden have made it necessary to whittle down the number and variety of plants that I have. On the north side of the greenhouse I have a sand bed, planted with quite a few small succulents, agaves and cacti. Listing them all would present a challenge at the moment, but I hope to do that soon.

With at least 17 different species in this picture, I’ll have to go over this bed in the near future. Several of these agaves need to move into their own areas!


In the southeast corner, I have a small dirt bed that I currently grow vines out of. Right now, there are a few bulbs of the gloriosa lily (Gloriosa superba), passionfruit (Passiflora ‘Clear Skies’), and golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum). The gloriosa lilies are dormant for the year and the golden pothos has been knocked back almost down to ground level by the cold temperatures, but the passionfruit has just poked up out of the ground unexpectedly with a few leaves. I did not plant it there…

As a matter of fact, there are quite a few things happening in the greenhouse right now. Despite the near-icy temperatures, many of the plants are pretty happy. Several of the little agaves have put out new pups, other succulents have put out a flush of new leaves, and a ton of new growth on the portion of the purple appleberry (Billardiera longiflora) that has managed to work it’s way inside the greenhouse.

Agave potatorum sending out a couple of pups in search of drier pastures.
Boophane disticha, started from seed in 2014. This is not a plant for the impatient gardener. Maybe they’ll get their own individual pots in 2017.


As far as potted plants, the greenhouse is a little homogeneous. At last count, there were at least 30 individual palms, and more than 10 species. Almost all have been started by me as seeds bought via Ebay or some online source. A few palms have come to me by trading plants with other gardeners.  All are ‘must-haves’ for me, though. They have all required quite a bit of legwork to start, but after the first few strap leaves they have become much easier to care for. Once they start to get large, that will change. These palms are all part of my big plans for next winter, so I will need to ensure that my work put into them so far will not be in vain.

King Palm (Archontophoenix alexandrae) is one of the fastest growing palms, certainly in my collection.
Pati Queen Palm (Syagrus botryophora) and Distichous Fishtail Palm (Wallichia disticha) are both unique palms, and I look forward to them outgrowing their pots someday.

Being unheated except for what heat is generated from the lights when extended rain showers and clouds are in the forecast, there are occasional losses. None of them are small losses, considering the fact that I hand picked every plant that I grow. Despite being in the most protected corner, the Synadenium grantii (or Euphorbia grantii depending on who you are) has kicked the bucket.

For some reason Dr Grantii has decided to become a fossil… and I’m sure that reason is low temperature.

Two winters ago it looked almost as bad, and it managed to claw it’s way back into the garden and look great while it did so. That was back before the greenhouse, and it was exposed to near freezing temperatures before I stuck it in the garage. This year, I think it frosted inside the greenhouse before I remembered to put the lights on a timer. I can hope that the base is still ok, but I’m not betting on it.

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