Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Shade Pavilion Greenhouse, upgrade…

Most of you know the structure we refer to as our “shade pavilion” undergoes a winter-time transformation to become a sort of greenhouse. The design we’ve been using goes back to 2010 and had become a little tattered. Still usable, but begging to be improved upon in the mind of its designer, Andrew.

Construction began on October 19th a beautifully sunny and warm day. Cleared of many of the potted plants (about half are already inside for the winter) the patio became a great work area.

Of course the supervisor was napping as soon as work got underway, as they do.

I should save the best part for last, but I'm not going to...the new design is bigger, as in there is MORE ROOM FOR PLANTS...yes, it's true! The sides on the old design fell just about at the outer edge of the orange upright. The new sides mount where you see the "U" shaped cut out in the 2x4. That's roughly 9" of new space on each side, 18" overall, running the full length of the structure.

And the new sides are clear and solid. The old design (picture coming up below) had solid ends but the sides and roof were made up of sheet poly.

Now they're corrugated panels sandwiched between two pieces of wood.

We eventually placed grey pipe insulating tubes along the bottom edge to help keep it air-tight-ish. And yes the labels came off, we were leaving them in place during construction to help keep the front and back sides obvious.

Here you can see the bottom seal as well as the ultra moderne and stylish curved corners...

The finished product! You can barely make out the white curved pieces that fit in the gaps at the top of each wall and under the roof. The design is so sleek I almost wish I had time to break out the orange paint and cover the raw wood, so it better blends. However as it ages it will darken and not be so loud (as evidenced but the older vertical piece you can see in the photo above)

Seems the supervisor woke up just in time to inspect our work.

Look how big and spaceous! (and bright)

Because he is always trying to improve upon things Andrew is already critiquing this design. He wishes the roof had been tilted to allow for rain (snow???) to run off. It is completely under the metal roof (this image makes it look like it extends beyond) though so hopefully that won't be too much of an issue.

This design lets in so much more light than the old one! Okay enough admiring it's time to fill it up...

Don't they look happy?

I fear the utilitarian shelving brings down the overall property value though...

The three dark grey stripes on the right side (below) are non-residue duct tape we used to seal the panels together. It's a nice dark color (not silver) and blends quite well, when we take it apart in the Spring the tape will pull right off with no sticky stuff left behind. The reason there aren't any stripes on the left is because we ran out of tape, I've since finished the job. Oh and that empty space inside on the left is for a couple of plants I needed Andrews help lifting.

Here's the old design, a photo from it's first year of use. Some of you might notice the plant collection has grown a little over the years too...

This is a definite improvement!

Here are the stragglers, waiting to be tucked in there by the door. They've since been moved in and fit perfectly.

Plus I still have a little extra room to get in there and check on things and water a bit.

Because I don't want to let things like my acacia get too dried out...

There are other benefits to an enclosed space too, like the fact I finally noticed the amazing scent of the Colletia hystrix flowers.

Plants like Mr. Big, my Agave americana 'Variegata' are happy at the prospect of a dry winter.

And I'm hoping plants like the Grevillea 'Superb' I brought home from the Ruth Bancroft Garden will stay just warm enough to live through the winter. Of course things are organized with the plants that need the most heat both nearest the eventual heat source, as well as close to the door - should an emergency evacuation (into the warm house) be required.

I wish I knew what winter holds for us all, but at least my plants have the best possible chance at a cozy few months.

And how lucky am I to have a husband who will spend his limited free time building things to protect the ridiculous quantities of special-needs-plants we've acquired? (very)

By the way the temperature inside the "greenhouse" is running a full 4 degrees warmer overnight, with no heat, how fabulous is that? Of course the sun has been helping to heat it up during the day and as the morning progresses and the outside air warms up, it lags behind. I'm going to have to get in the habit of opening it up for air circulation. And look into less obnoxious shelving...

All material © 2009-2013 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

56 comments:

  1. Wow, that is gorgeous and looks wonderful with your house and yard. I love it. The perfect place for your plants to winter over.

    Great job Andrew!

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    1. Indeed, however I'm still hoping for a mild winter...I just can't help it!

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  2. That looks great - I'm really jealous! It is such an upgrade compared to the original.

    I especially love that you say this part: "ridiculous quantities of special-needs-plants WE'VE acquired? (very)" Like he's partly to blame for all the plants :)

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    1. Funny that jumped out at you. I originally wrote "I've" but didn't like the way that sounded. You're right though, of course. It's mostly me but he certainly aides the addiction.

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  3. Fantastic, I'd sit inside with a book and a cuppa !

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    1. Oh you know I thought about it. When I first started moving plants in I thought I was going to end up with a ton of extra space. My first thought "I can buy more plants!" was quickly followed by "and sit here on a sunny winters day and pretend I'm on the patio and it's summertime." Of course once all the plants were moved in I realized there wasn't much space for any of that.

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  4. A fabulous upgrade! That Andrew is a handy and creative husband. I'm glad you explained how the space breathes: I was worrying until you showed the door open for air.

    I think you have the best of both worlds: a cool shade pavilion in summer, and an "instant" (and sleek) greenhouse in winter (that doesn't take up valuable real estate being empty in summer.)

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    1. To be honest I'm still a little worried about air circulation. Once I get the heater out there it does have a fan only setting so I might run it an hour or so each day with the door open. Not that I have a clue if that would do any good.

      As for the "instant" part that depends on your definition of the word...but most definitely it's good in such a small garden to not have wasted real estate in the summer!

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  5. Very nice, but where's the door? I'm curious about the details of that, as the door is usually the leakiest part of any greenhouse design.

    If you're looking for a more stylish replacement for the cinder blocks, how about concrete test cylinders, like this: http://concrete-testing.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/concretecylinders.jpg
    If you can find a test facility in the area, they usually have loads of these they need to get rid of. I picked up a dozen or so 20 years ago from a test facility in St. Louis and have used them in so many ways!

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    1. The door is on the east side, facing the back side of the garage. You can see it in the last photo above, open. We reused the door from the previous version as it has worked wonderfully and never leaked. It's solid as well as being tucked under the metal roof.

      Test cylinders, I love that look! I'll have to look into them. My only concern would be getting the height I need as they look a little short (12"?) and like stacking them (as I did the blocks) might not be a good idea???

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    2. I've stacked them 2 high before. They're nice and heavy too. Try to find some, then decide!

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  6. Absolutely beautiful. The transparent panels are perfect for this. They let in the maximum amount of light and look great, too. I'm jealous--I'd love to have a structure like this year round!

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    1. Thanks Gerhard, I'll have to let Andrew know his skills are being appreciated.

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  7. It's wonderful! I actually like the shelves - they're very industrial chic. And I love that Colletia hystrix!

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    1. I had no idea the Colletia hystrix would get so bloom-tastic! It's a little crazy...

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  8. Even with the makeshift shelving, your plants are occupying a Street of Plant Dreams home. How happy they must be.

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  9. Design/build skills would be high on my list of desireable husband qualities. Nice going Andrew! Around here you would have to have some source of heat but I'd love to have a sunny greenhouse like space to play around in during the winter.

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    1. We've put a small electric heater in there in the past, on a 24 hr timer. It only runs on the coldest of nights. Andrew was talking about upgrading to propane, I however have an entirely irrational fear of propane.

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  10. Great idea and very inspiring! good reason to buy more tender plants!

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    1. It's a good thing you live in another country, you'd be dangerous to nursery shop with.

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  11. What a very clever fella you have! You really should look into marketing these structures. I was also a little worried about ventilation. Is it only through opening the door? I fear that on sunny, late winter days the plants may be happier with top ventilation.

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    1. Maybe that should be our retirement plan?

      It is just a door for ventilation. I recently watched walls like this going up at a nursery and they had a couple of windows which could be propped open. Of course that was after we were done with this (working two long weekend days and 5 nights after work). So too late to change the design this year. Should things get really warm in there I can pop open a corner or two. We've got insulation shoved in the upper corners where they curve and meet the ceiling.

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  12. Impressive upgrade but I'm even more impressed that Andrew was able to invision it! He's pretty amazing and you are very lucky that he builds stuff for your plants! Do you rent him out?

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    1. Isn't he good? And yes I am lucky. Rent, uhm...let's see...NO! I don't get to see enough of him with his crazy work schedule, not a chance of me sharing.

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  13. fifi la fontaineOctober 30, 2013

    I am so jealous! This is what I was planning to do to the screened-in covered area in back.

    Do you think this greenhouse now enables you to leave out zone 9-10 plants without worry? And will this will cause you to buy even more tropical plants than ever before?

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    1. Without worry...not a chance! Worrying is what I do.

      Seriously though I doubt it, not without a super heat source and even then I don't know if there's enough room for something to pump out a lot of heat without damaging the plants around it. Our old version kept things around 30-32 on the nights when it was in the low 20's outside. I have hopes this one will do that and more. But if it got down to the mid-teens over night and stayed below freezing during the day (as it did in the PKW's - phormium killing winters) then I fear all bets will be off. Back when it was first designed (the original) was intended to just keep cold-hardy plants dry. I've pushed the boundaries of what we ask of it.

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  14. Wow, very clever Andrew and your shade pavilion looks like a very smart and modern looking greenhouse! And I like your 'utilitarian' shelving too btw, actually to me it looks more like 'industrial chic' :)

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    1. That's the second or third vote for 'industrial chic'...I'll take it!

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  15. That's definitely an upgrade...so glad Lila was there to oversee things :-)

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    1. Who knows what we might have ended up doing if she hadn't been there to keep the craziness in check.

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  16. Fab! Love the sleek modern look combined with the college dorm shelving. Funny, I have the same in my wee greenhouse. This looks great. And it's given me an idea for a temporary space for my taller temperamental plants that prefer it drier and above 32 in the dark winter months.

    Good on you both!

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    1. Glad to spark an idea! And thank you...

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  17. That Andrew ! how great to have someone around who has both vision and execution skills..rare indeed. And sensitive too as he worried about my stucco ! How about building some shelving using galvanized pipe as the structure ? It would have a nice industrial look , and 1' pipe and fittings woulds take up a lot less room than the cinder block (more plant space) and you could probably even put it on casters so you could move it if need be ..Shelves and all though , the whole thing is just outstanding !

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    1. We've got hanging racks in the basement for out-of-season clothing made of pipe and I love them (another Andrew project). Plus you point out something very important that I hadn't even thought of, how much space those blocks are occupying!!! That's space for more plants! Thanks!

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  18. That looks great! Your plants look so cosy in there.
    Your supervisor is adorable.

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  19. Oh, one other thing Loree--I have had some luck using seedling heat mats for my pop-up greenhouse.I use it basically like radiant floor heat and so it's gentle and even. I have two of them and I plug them in if nighttime temps are predicted to get in the 20's. The places that sell pot-growing supplies have commercial sized mats that are bigger, but they are pricey.

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    1. Another great idea! Especially as a booster...

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  20. I thot it was quite fabulous before, but this, wowza.

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  21. That's my dream. Like, actually my dream!

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  22. You have the coolest husband and the coolest greenhouse, period. And it's nice to see Lila wearing flannel, like a proper supervisor.

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    1. She knows her role that's for sure.

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  23. Very nice! I'm really impressed by the amount of work you put into babying your tender plants through the winter (and Andrew too -- he rocks!). Even your winter storage is stylish!

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    1. Thanks Pam, and really once the fall push is over there isn't much to do. An occasional water for a few of them, maybe turn on the heater a few nights but they are so easy really!

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  24. Here in rain-starved LA, that to me looks like the perfect rain pavilion. The sound of it drumming, the sight of it dripping down the panels -- I'd be out there for every storm. There's gotta be room for a small chair in there somewhere!

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    1. Actually Denise I think I can fit a chair in, but to listen to the rain...nah. Get enough of that...

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  25. your greenhouse is so beautifull, realy a great job
    and the color of all yours pots are so nice with it.

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  26. You know, a hot tub would help keep the humidity level up to benefit those plants.

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    1. haha...but this is Portland. Moisture is only an issue in July, August and September.

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  27. I love it. Your plants are going to be great in this fancy new house.

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