There was good news and bad news when we came to restore the two greenhouses at Leonardslee. The good news being that the main structures were in pretty good shape. They were well-built and the aluminium frames have stood up to a long period of neglect; but now sadly derelict and missing a lot of the glazing.
There are two greenhouses:-
- The Crystal Palace, at 110 feet by 50 feet
- The Alpine House some 50 feet by 40 feet
THE CRYSTAL PALACE
The Crystal Palace was a warm, temperate house when in use. It was planted with a mixture of plants, trees and shrubs. Amongst these were tree ferns, banana plants, agapanthus, eucomis, two acer trees, echiums, pittosporum, encliandra to name a few. Some have survived.
Research into its history proved it not to be as old as we had originally thought. It was found to have been built at some point in the 70's.
During a period of neglect a large palm, a 'Washingtonia robusta' had made a bid for freedom and broken through the roof causing damage to the glass and structure on the way.
There were several other panes of glass that had been broken. The decision was made to remove all the glass and re-glaze with greenhouse grade polycarbonate.
The problem encountered was that some of the materials in the structure of the glasshouse are no longer made and we have had to find alternatives.
It has at present a pond that used to contain Koi carp. The pond is to be removed to make space available to house a new reception area in the greenhouse, with a gift shop and garden centre, leading from a new entrance to the estate. There will be additional car parking too.
The pond itself is one of the causes for delay because a newt has set up in residence and work cannot start again until after the middle of April when our house guest will have left the pond. Its dimensions (the pond, not the newt) are around 60 feet by 25 feet.
THE ALPINE HOUSE
The Alpine House was used to display some prize specimens planted in the rockery.
The alpine house is to be replanted and also used as a lovely setting for new tea rooms. We are now planning what we shall plant; very little of the flora has survived but there appear to be some lewisia, pelargoniums and a few shrubs, which we shall nurture back to good health.
We are also applying for planning permission for another greenhouse, of a similar size to the Alpine House, and a vegetable garden. We will keep you updated!