I can’t even begin to tell you how exciting this blog post is to write because yes, after much talking about it and “one day” and “eventually”, we have finally bought a greenhouse! If someone had told me even just 5 years ago when I was still regularly out on Friday nights that in the not-too-distant future I’d really enjoy growing my own vegetables, I’d probably have thrown a drink over their heads but here we are. A lot has changed and happened in the past few years and even this Peter Pan-ette has to grow up eventually.
So let me tell you a little about our greenhouse journey. Back in spring 2020 when lockdown was all we knew, we decided to get a little mini growhouse that I named Marjorie who sat on our patio and we dabbled with sowing some seeds. Somehow, the least green-fingered person on the planet managed to grow quite a substantial crop of vegetables from courgettes to aubergines, potatoes to rocket and it turned out I loved it. We dug up a patch of lawn at the back of the garden to create some semi-raised beds and that’s how it stayed.
Last year we tried again and I ended up with so many cucumbers and runner beans that I was giving things away. It wasn’t just a passing fad so we made the decision to invest in a greenhouse, a lean-to style that we could attach to the side of our outbuilding making full use of the wall there but also giving us something lovely to look at from the back of the house.
I started researching but found it so hard to work out all the different elements I needed to understand. What was essential for a greenhouse versus a nice-to-have? And trying to see them in person when you live in London is almost impossible.
After some really helpful feedback from the IG community (mainly, whether people had wooden or aluminium greenhouses and how much I’d be looking at spending), I felt in a much more confident place to start approaching companies for quotes for bespoke greenhouses, having not found anything that really worked for our requirements in an off-the-shelf package. I settled on a bespoke cedar lean-to greenhouse which was coming in at around £5,600. Yikes. I was all set to pay the deposit but something held me back and I’m old enough now to know that when this happens, even though I don’t know why, it’s my gut instinct and I trust it.
Fast forward to summer this year, we still wanted a greenhouse but were no further forward in actually obtaining one. I sent Pete the quote I’d had from last year for him to contact the company with some additional questions we had and unsurprisingly in the space of 12 months our quote had gone from £5,600 to £6,800. If we had done everything else to the house and the greenhouse was literally the last thing to be done then maybe, but it really started to feel like a prohibitive cost. Plus, was there really any point in paying for cedar when I was going to be painting it black because what I REALLY wanted was a black-framed greenhouse? That’s a sanity check right there.
We went back to the drawing board in August and started over, my research from the bespoke company certainly armed me to start looking again and we came across the Juliana Group who offered a range of *comparatively* affordable greenhouses in both wood and aluminium and in dimensions that we could work with given the space we have.
By pure luck, they happened to have a distribution centre near to where we were staying in the Cotswolds in September so we visited as soon as we were up there and they were open and it couldn’t have been a better experience. Their knowledge was incredible and they were very honest to advise on things it was sensible to get as part of the greenhouse installation and add-ons that weren’t essential but could always be collected if we still wanted at a later date. We were able to see the exact greenhouse we wanted, also in the size too (we have bought a 6ft by 12ft) and although it wasn’t in black but dark green it was good enough to imagine how it will look in our garden.
It’s also ended up costing just one third of what I was originally looking at last year, even including all the accessories so we have paid just over £2,100 for something which is much more closely aligned to what we wanted in the first place. There is a lot of work to do to get ready for it – I have to clear the existing raised beds and gravel at the back of the garden, then we have a foundation being laid at the end of October. Hopefully though, I could be saying “Happy Christmas” from a cosy little outside space at the bottom of the garden. Hot chocolate and fireplace at the ready!