March 29, 2015

A Country Garden: The Greenhouse

There is nothing better than spending a raw, cold Saturday morning, complete with intermittent snow showers, in a nice warm greenhouse looking at bright and cheerful flowering plants. So when my friend Jonathan asked me to come look at the greenhouse, I leapt at the chance. IMG_9732

The ribbed glass diffuses the light and the pea-gravel and blue-stone paths ensure that the water drains off and no plants are sitting in puddles of water. The potting area is filled with rooting hormones, small biodegradable pots, amended potting soils and all of the tools of the trade. IMG_9722

Jonathan is already starting seeds, like sweetpeas, an early bloomer which hates hot weather, in the greenhouse. He’s got pots of rhizomes which he’s cut from last year’s crops of plants and is also starting them.IMG_9690

My geranium, which was a cutting from one that Thomas Jefferson owned, and which was a gift from the owner of the late lamented blog, Reggie Darling, has, under Jonathan’s expert care, finally grown from a pitiful little stalk, into a bushy plant. IMG_9686

Jonathan is a big fan of succulents, and their wonderful shapes, which follow the Fibonacci sequence. IMG_9763IMG_9681

There is such symmetry and mathematics in nature, and this gorgeous begonia leaf followed what is known as the Golden Spiral, which is an offshoot of both the Golden Ratio and the Fibonacci Sequence. IMG_9672

imageimageI am such a dork. This stuff fascinates me so much, even though I am total failure at math.

Another plant that Jonathan likes is the begonia family, which is what the leaf above is. While the leaf below looks like it would be very sharp and uncomfortable, it’s actually sort of rubbery.IMG_9707IMG_9706IMG_9706x

Here are a few more begonia leaves.


The greenhouse is also home to some amazing orchids, which are notoriously difficult to grow, but under Jonathan’s care, they’re thriving. IMG_9696IMG_9698IMG_9704IMG_9710

Jonathan also has a collection of clivia which are native to Southern Africa. Their sword-like leaves and bright flowers make a beautiful presentation. IMG_9670IMG_9758Their buds look like little baby fingers and toes!IMG_9776

It was such a cheerful and warming experience to spend some time in the greenhouse, learning about new flowers and realizing that, despite the snow-showers, that spring is right around the corner. IMG_9754

Thanks, Jonathan!


  1. What a nice way to spend the day. Makes me remember that I can visit the Wellesley greenhouses, which I haven't done in a long time!

  2. I love greenhouses -the humid air and scents of plants. those orchids are amazing! Did you hear it was so COLD this past weekend cause of meteors?? so weird...true science! haha

  3. Wow, an impressive array of plants your friend has, and how lovely to have somewhere to hide from the cold I keep hearing all about (temps. around here should be in their 60's or low 70's today in San Francisco).

    Lovely to see your geranium doing so well.

  4. So beautiful those begonias!! Now I want my own collection. Tom is going to kill me....more plants for us to take care.

  5. Meg thanks to you and Jonathon!! The Fibonacci sequence and whirls fascinate me as well. Those orchids, how gorgeous. Have you heard anything from Reggie by the way? You have a lovely keepsake from him!

    The Arts by Karena

  6. green house on snowy day + what a blessing + thank you to you + jonathon

  7. Architect Design beat me to the comment - one of my favorite things about greenhouses is the humid, fecund air. The smell of green things in moist heat - it's intoxicating! And orchids have always fascinated me, because they look like they'll eat your face off if you take your attention off of them for just a second. RAWR! As for Fibonacci and the math... thank goodness for calculators, because I was not born with the math gene, but I love the artistic and aesthetic qualities that math provides! I love plants because they don't KNOW the math, they just GROW the math!


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