Green rooms

Peo­ple in glasshouses should count them­selves lucky

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - THE CUT - Talib Choudhry hart­ley-botanic.co.uk; ali­tex.co.uk

I wrote about red Sky Shep­herds Huts on this page a few weeks ago, and since then David Cameron has taken de­liver y of a hut from the fam­ily-r un com­pany, which he in­tends to use as a gar­den re­treat in which to write his mem­oirs. this news may in­crease the huts’ de­sir­abil­ity in your eyes, or make them seem a soupçon more twee and pre­ten­tious, but I, dear reader, have set my sight s on a n al­to­gether dif fer­ent gar­den build­ing – fickle, moi? although a cold frame would be bet­ter suited to the space in my Lon­don gar­den, I have been dayd rea ming about a n or nate Vic­to­rian-style glasshouse af­ter spend­ing a day at the idyl­lic Peter­sham Nurs­eries in rich­mond.

the Palm House at nearby Kew Gar­dens is the most im­por­tant sur viv­ing Vic­to­rian glass-and-iron st r uc­ture in t he world . It was bu i lt i n 18 4 4 by richard turner and Dec­imus bur­ton, us­ing meth­ods bor rowed from ship- build­ing( the de­sign is es­sen­tially an up­turned hull), which made the great open span pos­si­ble, al­low­ing room for the growth of tall spec­i­men palms.

Nine decades later, Vin­cent Hart­ley patented his orig­i­nal alu­minium green­house de­sign, which was much lighter and more durable than its Vic- tor ia n wood-a nd-wrought-iron forer un­ners. Ha r t ley bot a nic ha s been build­ing glasshouses g reat and small ever since, and now has a large off-the-peg range, as well as craft­ing spec­tac­u­lar be­spoke struc­tures for clients.

My favourite de­signs, how­ever, are by ali­tex, which was founded in 1952. the com­pany’ s motto is ,‘ Crafted in alu­minium with a cast-iron guar­an­tee,’ and it pro­duces a charm­ing tra­di­tional range in col­lab­o­ra­tion with gar­den­ers and cu­ra­tors from Na­tional trust prop­er­ties. the eight de­signs are avail­able in six colours( Chalk hill blue is par­tic­u­larly smart ), and prices start at £10,250. It looks like I’ll be day­dream­ing for a while longer.

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