No beginner is going to turn over a complete room to his plants, or dash out to order a conservatory, but once the collecting bug bites the scope offered by the average home seems suddenly inadequate -not only in terms of window space but because of the restrictions that ordinary living places on the creation of a buoyant growing atmosphere. It is that urge to expand one’s hobby that has led to many a conservatory being built. The word conservatory frequently conjures mental images of large Victorian houses with large and lofty glass structures, often quite ornate, built on to the back. There are few homes today able to take anything on this scale -the structure would be out of proportion to most modern homes, and the

cost prohibitive for many families. There are, however, some delightful and very tasteful lean-to greenhouses that would enhance any home – they are far removed from the normal purely functional appearance of most greenhouses and would certainly add value to the property. By positioning one of these against French windows the living room can be extended when the doors are open, and you have all the advantages of a greenhouse in your home. Not only will a wide range of plants be happy there, but you will be able to appreciate most of them through the glass.

Often a small washroom or other existing glass-sided or glass-topped lean-to structure can be converted into a conservatory (ensure adequate ventilators are installed), and these can often be made into, very pleasant places.

Failing that, there is always the front porch, which should always have a welcome of flowers and plants anyway. By installing a modest heater for the cold weather, and some means of adequate ventilation for the hot days (this should not be overlooked), a wide range of delightful plants can be grown. There are obvious limitations, however, as there is still the problem of icy blasts when the outer door is opened -the surest way to lose the leaves on a croton for instance.

There is another alternative – a growing room. It means devoting a spare bedroom or some other suitable room to your interest, but that applies to many other hobbies. The great advantage is that you can control the total environment – including light.

Setting up a growing room is not cheap. Benches and shelves

will have to be installed around the room, and special growing lights used. To grow as many plants as possible in a small space it is usual to arrange some of the shelves in tiers, with the light tubes attached beneath upper shelves to illuminate the plants below. To ensure there is sufficient light each day, the lighting system should be on a time switch.

If existing central heating radiators are not already installed, a thermostatically-controlled electric heater is the answer (provided it is suitable for use in a damp, humid atmosphere). The only other investment, if you have to leave the room unattended will be an automatic ventilator.

Such a room, where plenty of humidity can be created, will have a special ‘feel’ to it, a buoyancy to the air that makes all the difference to the growth of plants.

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