Every once in a while Z suggests like he did today that perhaps it would be cool if the plantry were bigger. And then he gets this furrowed look as if he’s actually calculating measurements, drawing plans, and ordering materials. And I can’t help getting kind of excited even though any kind of remodel – especially one entailing digging new foundations and putting in skylights – is way beyond our budget. No matter. The plantry is awesome just as it is. In fact, (I think I’ve mentioned this before) an enclosed entry porch was one of the selling features of a house I would have otherwise dismissed for its boring vinyl sided, mid-century, ranch-ness.
Bumped out on the south side of the house, with windows facing east, south and west, the plantry warms up beautifully during the day from fall through to early spring when it actually heats beyond comfort if I forget to open windows. Overnight, the temperature dips with the weather and can fall below freezing on cold nights especially after a chilly day. It’s the perfect place to overwinter tender (not tropical) plants and I fill it to the gills with things like New Zealand flax (Phormium spp.), parlor maple (Abutilon spp.), rosemary, coprosma, orchid cactus, night blooming cereus, various pelargonium, Clivia miniata, pink jasmine, panda plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa), and echevaria. Anything that needs light over the winter but doesn’t mind chilly near-dormancy.
To ensure that nothing freezes, I set a timer to turn on an electric radiator in intervals through the night. The plantry is also kitted out with a bench, a bespoke sideboard with drawers (thank you, Z!), an Ikea Hyllis shelving unit with shelves installed upside-down to catch watering overflows, a spigot and hose (thank you, Z!), and a custom sized waterhog mat from L.L. Bean to keep major overflows from reaching and rotting the walls. Cuteness is also important, obviously, because this is the only way to enter the house. (The other entry – the actual front door into the living room – is blocked by houseplants over the winter.) So I do what I can – with my mother’s help in the goose planter department. All the plantry really lacks, because it only measures 7’x5′ not including the passage between doorways, is room for a small table and chairs; a place to sit and eat breakfast on warm mornings.
Where do you overwinter your tender perennials and shrubs?