A talk on Chicago’s Lincoln Park Conservatory was recently given to our club. The Victorian era glasshouse allows tropical plants to thrive in the cold climate of Illinois. In Sydney, though we have a few freezing nights and chilly days each winter, the need for glasshouses is limited.
That said, many plants would appreciate protection from the worst of the weather and consequently there are greenhouses on the market to satisfy every garden need. These garden shelters not only protect from cold and frost, they also help plants get a head start on spring. Gardeners can sow seeds weeks ahead of what’s possible in the open environment, earning them an early crop of tomatoes or an unseasonal display of potted colour.
Another type of garden shelter that’s widely used in our neck of the woods is a shade house. Our problem is the unrelenting summer sun not falling snow, so a bit of UV-blocking cloth can mean the difference between scorched leaves and verdant foliage.
Actually, it’s not that hard to build your own shelter which works as frost protection, then plant incubator, and can eventually be converted to a cool, shade house. Simply hammer some star pickets into 2 rows where you want your shelter. Place poly tubing onto and connecting each pair of star pickets to form a row of arches. Cover the arches with plastic sheeting in winter and shade cloth in summer. You can hang 2 sheets (plastic or shade cloth) at both ends to work as doors, or leave it open – our plants don’t need that much help with our nearperfect weather.
These shelters also help control soil moisture, humidity and even deter pests like possums and some insects. Our climate is a gardener’s dream, but there’s no harm in trying to create a better dream.
If you’re interested in gardening, join us at the Macquarie Towns Garden Club. We meet at 2:00 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month at the Windsor Library. Check us out at: www.macquarietownsgardenclub. wordpress.com. If you have suggestions or feedback for me, send it c/o: contrib[email protected] hillstohawkesbury.com.au.