People in glasshouses should count themselves lucky
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.