The Royal Greenhouse of Laeken

Five reasons to escape to a greenhouse on cold winter days

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On a freezing cold day last fall, I visited a nearby greenhouse that was showcasing a special exhibit. Everything outdoors by this time was all kinds of dead and all my gardening chores were (mostly) done for the season. Even though summer wasn’t that far behind me, it felt good to breath in that fresh plant-y smell and get my flower fix. I would say this type of outing is even more rewarding right about now. Or anytime in February when winter seems like it will never EVER end. 

I thought I’d put together a few benefits you’ll reap from escaping to a local greenhouse, conservatory, or whatever it’s called where you live. This list is completely subjective, of course, but these are the reasons I like to visit “my happy place” in winter.

1. Get design ideas for your garden: You might discover some hardscaping inspiration that you want to mimic or a certain planting pattern for a blank space. Keep a small garden journal with you for moments like these when you’d like to take notes. Or better yet, take a photo.

2. Discover tropical plants you can grow as houseplants: You’ll see the usual suspects, but you just might discover something new to you, like a medinilla magnifica, an interesting orchid, or a brugmansia. Living walls are also quite popular now, so you may find a unique way to display one in your home or garden.

medinilla magnifica

A medinilla magnifica at the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken in Belgium.

3. Find project and craft inspiration: Whether it’s a colourful mosaic, a model for a hypertufa pot or a frame full of succulents, you may come away with an idea that will satisfy your green thumb throughout the winter months.

succulent frame

Why haven’t I made a succulent frame yet? I have several “inspiration” photos that I’ve taken. Maybe 2015 is the year…

4. Sit in the sunshine: If it’s a sunny day, bring a book, find a bench and get a little vitamin D.

Bench at the Muttart Conservatory

Find a quiet place to sit and pretend you’re outside. This bench is at the Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton, Alberta.

5. Be among fellow green thumbs: I’ve had some great chats with guides or passerby who are eager to talk about gardening. I always seem to take home some tidbit that I can tuck away in my garden journal. This winter, I’ve gone a step further and joined my local botanical garden’s auxiliary, so I’ll be digging in the dirt in a couple of greenhouses all winter long!

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