Last week I posted about how the garden was revving up, the starter motor whirring.  This week, the cold got into the battery and everything came to a grinding halt.

Several days in a row with sub zero temperatures and I needed to swing into action to protect my plants.

Greenhouse temperatures

Greenhouse thermometer

I’ve had my greenhouse for almost three years now and this week was the first time that I was worried for my plants.  Overnight lows of -7 degrees C made for below zero temperatures in the greenhouse.  It’s astonishing how much the temperatures can fluctuate when it’s cold at night but sunny during the day.  From a min of -2.6 to a max of 24.3 in a single day.  Yesterday was so warm in there, the deckchair came out for my friday tea break.

During my first summer and winter with the greenhouse I logged the temperatures daily both in summer and winter to get a feel for how it responded to the weather.  I now usually just know how it’ll be in there without having to check but still use the thermometer to monitor really hot days and really cold nights.  Anyone new to having a greenhouse should definitely invest in a max and min thermometer.

Greenhouse manoeuvres

Heated greenhouse in winter

I have a small annexed section of the greenhouse which can be heated if needs be.  A thermostatically controlled fan heater does the job very well, although ideally I’d have a bit of insulation up too.  I don’t need to keep it above 5 degrees as I’m pretty sure none of my current plants need it warmer than this.

This week it’s been chock a block in there as I’ve needed to squeeze in plants such as brugmansias and hedychiums which would usually be fine in the unheated section.  I’ve also even put a few of my pelargoniums in there as temperatures plummeted and they looked very sad.

Getting Fleeced

Frost protection in greenhouse

I’ve never had to deploy fleece in the greenhouse before but with the heated annexe full up, I needed to protect some more pelargoniums and various cuttings and succulents.  I think they’re happy under there.

However, I forgot all about my lovely Epiphyllums in the hanging baskets.  The RHS website says they’re only hardy to 10 degrees but I’m sure mine have survived lower than that.  Can they survive the -2.6 degrees?  I’m not at all sure and could curse my forgetfulness.  That’ll teach me not to look up!

Meanwhile the alpines in the sand boxes are revelling in the cold and highly amused by the sensitivity of the plants around them.

Bulb table

Spring bulbs in pots

The bulb table by the door gets an icy blast when I open up the greenhouse and they don’t mind.  The potted snowdrops are still going strong and are now joined by a few pots and pans of other bulbs.  These are fine outdoors or course but just bringing them into the greenhouse gives them a chance to show off untroubled by ice and snow.

Some pans have taken the place on the windowsill where the pelargoniums were.  Again, they’d be find outside and I’ll move them back out when temperatures rise.  For now, they’re cool enough and have a chance to open fully for all to admire.

Crocus sieberi ‘Ronald Ginns’

Crocus sieberi 'Ronald Ginns'Outside, in the freezing temperatures, this delightful crocus would be tightly shut and may well have collapsed.  Inside the greenhouse and warmed by yesterday’s sun they opened up to reveal egg yolk stamens.  I love the flecked patterning on the outsides too, in Dairy Milk purple.

Red Kite Roost

Red Kite

Red kites are frequent visitors to the garden.  This week two kites were roosting in the neighbour’s Catalpa tree and I was able to get a few shots with my zoom lens by hanging out of my bedroom window.  I wish I had a better zoom but hopefully you can see this beautiful creature surrounded by gentle snow.

It was a moment of calm but as soon as I’d captured the shot I quickly closed the window and warmed up with a cuppa.

This seasonal diary is part of a weekly link-up of garden bloggers from around the world, called Six on Saturday.  For more information and links to other blogs crammed with gardening activity, check the blog of host The Propagator.