Grateful this Christmas …

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Counting my blessings this Christmas. A lot of money has flowed under the bridge since this time last year (what with a greenhouse and one and a half bathrooms!).

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I also lost my precious mum at the start of January 2017: Christmas Day 2016 was spent (very happily, actually) by a hospital bed in Perth, while the Bon Viveur tended to things at home in Chatillon.

But wow – she must be so delighted when she looks down and sees what we have created in 2017!

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This is a very special greenhouse – it was my personal present to myself, for my sixtieth birthday in December 2016 (courtesy of financial help from my loving mother).

The BV has made an incredible job of constructing it – over a very long period of time. We started clearing the compost heaps that previously stood in this corner in October 2016. That took about a month on its own.

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Then the actual construction commenced in March. Due to the layout of my garden, this was the only possible place to put it. The bijou Eden Orangery was chosen for its small size and price tag – but mainly for the interest of its shape in a prominent position.  It was painted blue by us for the same reason. We imported it to France using a British company based in Brittany, since the French aren’t too hot on glass greenhouses (poly tunnels and workman-like spaces, no problem!).

We were toasting the final panes of glass going in with champagne as we greeted our second dump of snow for the year. And took the opportunity to show the first plants (lavender and santolina cuttings) their new home.

Can you see in the picture below that I go into my local supermarket to beg the polystyrene boxes that fish is delivered in? They make superb seed trays, pricking out boxes and carrying crates – and they last for an amazingly long time. I started doing this (on the recommendation of a local florist) when it became clear that I couldn’t get decent, rigid and reusable plastic seed trays in my part of  France.

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Not content with constructing the greenhouse, the BV also got his finger out for my wooden compost bins, painting and positioning them in the place I’ve had in my mind’s eye for the last five years or so. I kind of wanted little beehive shapes … but these will do nicely, thank you!

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They were purchased when the refuse collection system in our area changed to a ‘by weight’ calculation (I was already composting kitchen waste, but took advantage of the offer). The bins were supplied at a cost of only 36€ each by the company charged with refuse collection in the area. Each came with a nice little green compost container for the kitchen (so I have three that I can wash out and have on stand-by) and a stirring implement for each bin, looking a little like Neptune’s trident. Sicotral (the company in charge) even ran a day course on composting when the new scheme was introduced in May 2017. The French are so very, very thorough!

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The BV also created some temporarily duck boards so I don’t slip in the mud and crash into the glass of the greenhouse. We’ll use them lower down in the garden when I’ve re-established the grass path.

The upper level (to the right, in the picture below), where the greenhouse entrance is, will be a small wisteria-covered pergola, tailor-made for this gardener to pot and prick out to her heart’s content.

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There’s a lot of tidying to do, but next spring is already filling me with excitement and getting me to the serious seasonal task of seed-catalogue browsing.

Yes – it is going to be hot in there in the summer – very, very hot. Apart from the usual damping down and venting, I’m looking at purchasing something called ‘aluminium shading’ (clipped to the outside of the greenhouse), sold by a company in the UK called Simply Protect. I found them through an article in The Guardian and it looks like a fairly efficient solution – and not too very expensive. The technology appears to have been researched and developed by someone in North Carolina. Click here to take a look.

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We are also thinking of making a case at the back of the greenhouse so that several of the very long panes of safety glass on the sides can be removed and stored without fear of breakage – until we put them back in again in the autumn. Other ‘cooling’ ideas gratefully received!

I have been totally unable to raise tomatoes at Chatillon, due to blight (and I thought living on south-facing slopes would give me the best tomatoes I’ve ever experienced!). So, really, the greenhouse is a summer home for tomatoes.

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But I’m slowly realising that it will be more useful in the winter. Lettuces, spinach, oriental greens from September through to February, perhaps? The best, however, will be raising veggies and annuals from seed. I’ve experience only about 60% success rates with propagation in our sun room, up at the house – it only gets full, good light for half the day. I used to be quietly confident that I was good at this in the past!

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At the end of the day, I’d say the thing I’ve got to be most grateful for is the darling BV who has worked so hard on this project over months and cheered me beyond belief during a tricky year. Here’s to you!

I hope that all of you who have taken time to read my blog over the last year have a splendid Christmas! I know that I’m not always the best gardening blogger ‘friend’, but your kind comments have brought the sun out for me on many occasions.

If this Christmas turns out to be a sadder one than you would have wished, please accept a spiritual hug from me and my very best wishes for 2018.

A toast to the warm-hearted world of gardening bloggers and a very merry Christmas to you all!

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26 thoughts on “Grateful this Christmas …

  1. karen

    What a fabulous greenhouse. I love the shape of it and the colour. I can imagine you having many happy hours pottering in there. How lovely you were able to buy it with funds from your mother. I can’t think of a better item to spend the money on. Hopefully it will bring you much joy and comfort, which you mother would have wanted. Wishing you a Happy Christmas and New Year. I can see you have not had an easy time this year. Hoping that things will be better for you in 2018. Love karen x

    1. Cathy Post author

      It was the best buy I ever made and I can almost see mum smiling when I go in there! Have a very happy 2018 and looking forward to catching up with your blog in the not too distant future!

  2. Anna

    Now that’s some greenhouse! I love the shape of it and it looks as if it fits the spot its in so well. Oh what a truly lovely reminder of your mother Cathy. My mother died last December and I will be using some of her legacy to buy a tree and some snowdrops this winter. Wishing you many happy hours of sowing, growing and just generally pottering about xxx

    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks Anna – yes, I remember that you lost your mum last December. I hope you have picked out a splendid tree in memory of her. Tree memorials are such a wonderful idea. Wishing you a happy end of the year and a peaceful transition to 2018! xxx

  3. johnvic8

    Congratulations on the new greenhouse and the extras that went with it. I don’t anticipate a sadder Christmas, but I will still welcome the blogospheric hug. Hope you and BV have a blessed Christmas.

    1. Cathy Post author

      I hope your Christmas has been terrific John and look forward to visiting a Walk in the Garden more frequently in the new year. I hope 2018 is a great one for you and yours!

  4. Chloris

    Very smart compost bins and I love your new greenhouse. Snap, I got a new one on Thursday and I can’t stop admiring it. I can’t think of anything nicer than a shiny new greenhouse. Happy Christmas to you too.

    1. Cathy Post author

      Best Christmas present EVER Choris! Such a long time since I stopped by your blog – but am now dying to have a look at your new one too! Happy new year!

  5. Cathy

    I read this a few days ago but am behind with my commenting. I am so thrilled for you at finally having your greenhouse – you have been very patient (well, it seems that way to me, but whether the BV agrees is another matter!) over the year but now what a wonderful asset you have as well as that appropriate tribute to your mother. It is indeed a fair size and I now know it is always better to go for the biggest greenhouse you have space and funds for! Why are you concerned about breakage of some of the panes? Is this while the decking work is going on? It is quite straightforward to make a sort of shallow box to hold the glass – the Golfer knocked one up out of scrap wood or an old pallet for collecting the glass when we bought the second hand greenhouses. It just fits the glass snugly (ours were just smaller squares) but doesn’t have a top – depending on the risk you might consider having a top. What fun you will have!

    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks so much for your encouragement and enthusiasm! Good to know a box would be easy to create – it’s to take some of the panes out during the summer and store them out of harm’s way while it’s very hot down there. So I think the BV will follow the Golfer’s lead shortly! I am brimming with excitement and ordering seed!

    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks so much for visiting Fred – hope to visit you again soon, probably for the Saturday meme! Meanwhile – a very good new year to you!

  6. smallsunnygarden

    It’s thrilling to see your wonderful greenhouse, Cathy – what a Christmas treat! I’ve hardly kept up with your blog this year, but always enjoy it when I do! Sending wishes for a wonderful 2018 for you and the BV! 🙂

    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks so much Amy – I’ve been so terrible at keeping up with blogs this year, but look forward to visiting you in 2018! Have a wonderful start to the year.

  7. Cathy

    Hi Cathy. I am catching up on the posts I have missed, and resigned for following you… something at wordpress went amiss it seems! Anyway, your greenhouse is wonderful! Love the colour and all that hard work your dear hubby has put into it as well as it being partly funded by your Mun makes it extra special. 🙂 I shall look forward to hearing how you deal with the heat, and what you grow in there. I am hoping to get my own greenhouse soon – well, next year perhaps! Those compost bins are also very impressive!

    1. Cathy Post author

      I am also desperately trying to catch up with posts Cathy – you are so kind to take the time to read and comment! Yes, greenhouse now in (semi) full swing and the compost bins are proving their worth (I still enjoy looking at them – and think of Mum a lot when I look at the greenhouse, so thanks for your sweet comment).


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