Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Where can I see, feel, touch and smell a greenhouse?

The Hartley Botanic Stand at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

When you are looking to buy a greenhouse you need to do your research very carefully, where better to see a glasshouse in the flesh than an RHS Flower Show, says Jean Vernon

Buying a glasshouse is usually a once in a lifetime investment. It’s really important that you can see some of the options on offer in real-life so that you can feel, touch and smell what’s on offer, but you can talk to the experts too.

The RHS Flower Shows are a great place to see a variety of greenhouses, glasshouses and conservatories from small patio grow houses to huge cathedral style installations. But it’s not just the structure and accessories on show, you can also gauge the expertise of the company’s team, discuss your needs, budget and option and see the different ways a greenhouse can be utilised, styled and presented.

Whether you want a space to grow your prized alpine or cacti collection, or a place to grow some exotics and enjoy a summer’s evening as the sun goes down, there is something for everyone when it comes to greenhouses. You just need to explore your options, do your research and then go and see the real thing at a flower show, where there will be a range of greenhouse manufacturers exhibiting their range and armed with all the information that you need to make your decision.

Expert advice

If your greenhouse dream is just an idea then you can explore your options with experts from the glasshouse sales team, who will be on hand throughout the flower show. They are there to offer expert advice on what’s available and what would suit your needs. You need to have an idea of your requirements and the proposed site and of course a budget to work to. Then it comes down to style, size and models. It’s important to remember that most manufacturers will only have room for two, three or four installations on their show plot, but they will have a much larger range available for you to choose from. Make sure you’ve got time to go through the options available so that you make the right choice for you and your garden. The most often cited advice when it comes to buying a greenhouse is to buy a bigger model than you think you need. And that’s because not only will you cram the glasshouse with all of the plants you planned, your hobby will grow to completely fill the space and more. So if you can afford the next size up and there’s room for it on your plot, this is good advice.

Optional Extras

To make the most of your glasshouse consider the optional extras. These will include additional ventilation, automatic vents, greenhouse staging, shelving and benches and even blinds and shading. Some of them can be retro fitted, but it’s far better to order them with your glasshouse to have what you need right at the start. If budget is tight then probably the most important of these is the ventilation. Don’t underestimate its importance or cut corners. Ideally you need to include an area of ventilation equivalent to a third of the floor space area in your glasshouse. A low vent will also improve the airflow, drawing cooler air in at the bottom and allowing warmer air to escape through upper vents.

Ideas aplenty

Pineapple plants growing in the Coldframes on the Hartley Botanic Stand

Some of the best things about looking at greenhouses at a flower show are the styling and lifestyle ideas. The exhibitors employ specialist stylists to dress the glasshouses so that visitors get amazing ideas on how to use their glasshouse space. It’s not just about growing plants, although that’s really important to most. You might want an indoor water feature, or a dining area that you can use. One rock star is said to have purchased a high-end glasshouse to garage a sports car.

You’ll see ideas on how to display plants creatively, some alternative plants to grow and even a way of using a glasshouse you had never even thought of. At this year’s RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, Hartley Botanic had pineapple plants growing in the adjacent cold frames. Inspired.

Special show offers

Don’t forget that sometimes the glasshouses on show are for sale and you might be lucky to negotiate a special show offer price that means you can upscale your plans and get something even more extraordinary.

If you can’t get to a show this year then out the dates of next year’s shows in your diary now and start planning your dream glasshouse. You won’t regret it.