I had a great week in Warrington, building the base for an "Yvonne" greenhouse built entirely from accoya. The biggest job was digging into the slope to remove many tonnes of soil to get to the level point for the greenhouse base. I love the way the greenhouse nestles into the bank at the end. There is a lot of concrete poured into the foundations and the brickwork sits on top of engineering bricks in the ground. Engineering bricks don't absorb water as other bricks do and are especially tough - built for the job of being in the ground, locking the walls to the foundation and protecting the bricks above from potential rising water in wet conditions or frost.
This week my customers are doing all the writing. They have kept an online blog of their garden since 2009 and first came across Green Bug in 2012.
The long awaited greenhouse
It has seemed like such a long time coming, but that's because it has been a long time. Greenhouse envy was recorded here seven years ago in 2012, and after much saving, Robin McGregor has arrived to begin its construction. I have never seen anyone work so hard and so meticulously. He arrived mid afternoon to discover the builders' merchant had delivered the wrong bricks, spent much of the afternoon sorting that out, and then worked until late into the evening barrowing bricks up the garden the designated spot and digging the foundations. He has spent three days camped out on our drive, working from dawn until dark to get the base ready. He is now back in Wales constructing the frame and will be back soon to finish the job. We are very pleased with the results so far, and excited that our greenhouse dream will soon be a reality.
It was great to get back up to Perthshire but the weather was a bit wild and the rain stayed for most of the week - almost right up until the moment I left in fact, and then the sun came out for the photos.
This is the "Richard" greenhouse - one of the smallest greenhouses I build, measuring 2.5m long by 1.8m wide. There is still a huge amount of detail to it though with 3 gable ends, an overhanging roof, tight valleys and 4 opening windows.
From: Russell Willis Taylor
Sent: 06 April 2019 12:56
To: Robin McGregor <firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Re: Invoice 1084 from Green Bug Ltd
So glad you made it home safely -- and we very much enjoyed spending time with you. The greenhouse is a delight-- so beautifully made and exactly what we wanted-- and many thanks to you for working in the dark and rain when needed!
Hope to see you again in our part of the world, and will heartily recommend you to anyone who needs a greenhouse of the absolute best quality.
The weather was amazing in Shrewsbury this week - long, clear days and warmth at last.
This greenhouse measures 4m long by 2.5m wide with 4 auto-opening windows in the roof, and 5 manual opening ones around the sides. I built all the windows and doors with mortice and tennon joints and fitted the best quality stainless steel, ball-bearing hinges and cast iron handles and stays. I'm really pleased with the finished pathway.
Some close-ups below...
Sent: 24 March 2019
Robin, I’m so thrilled with the greenhouse! It feels like an old friend already - one that’s always been waiting down the garden! Can’t wait for my plants to arrive so I can pot them up in comfort. Theo the cat got up on his hind legs this afternoon and peered through the glass! No doubt he’ll be sleeping in there before long.
It was great to meet you too and it was a pleasure having you to stay. If I hear of anyone muttering about a greenhouse I’ll tell them about you.
With very best wishes, Hilary
Robin McGregor <email@example.com> wrote:
Thank you so much Hilary. I absolutely loved meeting you both - such engaging people - I've been raving about you to everyone and really enjoyed our wide ranging conversations. I'm really chuffed that the greenhouse is as you hoped and thank you both again for making me so welcome.
With kindest regards and thanks
Sent: 25 March 2019 13:57
Subject: Re: Greenhouse
Took some stuff down this morning to put in the greenhouse, loads of pots, etc. ready for when plants arrive (not for ages yet but I did it anyway). Oh, and a chair. Already I feel at home in it - like a snug second home! This is what my dad said when he finally bought himself a tiny greenhouse from B&Q that he should have done this years ago.
I feel the same and glad I didn’t wait till I’m 86 like him!
Thanks again, Robin. Just off down the garden to have another look at my lovely greenhouse ........
Robin McGregor <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Well now I've got a warm glow in my heart and a silly grin on my face - so pleased you like it.
Sent: 25 March 2019 17:50
Subject: Re: Greenhouse
Yup, it’s my very favourite thing at the moment! Think I’m in love 😍
My new workshop at Ty Newydd is really making my life so much easier. I can lay out the gable ends inside now. So the storms of the past week didn't hold me back when I needed to work on these larger sections
And I'm sure that it's more productive having all this extra space. In the attached paint shed I have two greenhouses completely finished and one coming along well - the grey "Richard" for Scotland, the green one for Shropshire and the "Jill" in white is coming along.
At the same time I'm building another 3 doors in the workshop. I still have plenty of space to move about and now have permanent work stations - for cutting, lathing, sanding, routing, morticing etc. - without having to change anything around or move timber outside before it's fully finished.
Enough said, best get back to it .... there are customers waiting.
This the "Jill" greenhouse - measuring 4m long by 2,8m wide - and this one will be built in accoya.
My customer wanted the cold frames as long as possible so I've taken it almost to the ends of the outside walls, but leaving enough space for the downpipe. This time I've added a raised bed on the inside of this greenhouse as well - great for growing tomatoes direct into the soil which helps if you forget to water them.
Once the walls were up the interior ground level could be reduced down. Thankfully the soil was easy going.
On the photo below, I'm just about to lay the timber wallplates down. They are squashed onto a mortar mix to give them full support along the length and them tapped with a mallet to get them finished level.
It was great to meet you too. We are really pleased with the progress so far, wonderful to see it take shape after such a long time on our wish list (since Feb 2012 according to our blog). Invoice all paid, look forward to hearing from you to arrange phase two!
You can see the undulating levels in the ground in the picture below. It's always hard to tell just how uneven the ground is until the foundation has been laid. Once I've built the walls up I can then dig out the interior to the level point.
After laying concrete edging stones in wet concrete I removed all the top soil from the inside and laid quarry stone and compacted that down with a whacker plate. The concrete setts were laid in a dry mix 5:1 ratio of sharp sand:cement and the kiln dried sand brushed into the gaps to finish.
* Opps - I built this one 4m long instead of 3.5m so the customers get the extra length for free. Luckily there is no shortage of space here and I hadn't built the long sections of the structure yet so everyone's happy. Aiming to return here soon.
A bit risky getting up to North Scotland in February but there was a small break in the weather and I made it up and back OK - travelling 520 miles on the return journey.
The ground was so frozen solid my mattock just bounced off it, with the occasional spark as it struck rock - so I resorted to my SDS drill to chisel small sections out and brake through the first few inches.
This is a "Richard" greenhouse - just 2.5m long by 1.5m wide but the sides are especially tall and there is a lot of detail in the roof having 3 finials, crested ridge, valleys and an overhanging canopy.
It was great to meet you during my short visit this week but I look forward to a more relaxed visit when I return (early April?) and would love to take you up on the offer of a trip to the pub or bite to eat. I journeyed up the Cairngorm Mountains after leaving yours to see another job but gladly made it home again late last night before the weather turned again.
I hope the base is to you liking - although, on it's own it's an odd looking thing.
Thank you for asking me to build your greenhouse
Green Bug Ltd
Sent: 08 February 2019 15:46
To: Robin McGregor <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Invoice 1080 from Green Bug Ltd
You are a wonder -- we have never seen someone work so efficiently or magically -- glad you made it home as we were hoping you were safely away after your dawn departure. I love looking at the base -- and am so looking forward to your return. And definitely a pub dinner on us! April would be great. Let us know when you are headed back and be glad you are not here today -- it is a mess.
This job took 2 visits to complete - one of 3 days, where I completed most of the greenhouse and structure of the shed (click here for earlier blog entry on that) and this one of 4 days - where I clad the outside of the shed in cedar, boarded the inside of the shed and the partition, completed glazing the gable end, hanging 2 doors and 5 opening windows, fitted a lead skirt / drip edge around the shed walls and lead flashings, hung the shelving, and laid the concrete plain tile roof to the shed and ridged with clay capped angle ridge and pointed up the gables with black mortar.
It sounds quite a lot when you put it like that!
It was 7pm Friday night when I eventually finished so the photos aren't very clear of the finished job.
Thanks for all your work and the process. Let me know when you are available for more bookings...best for now. Guy
It's so good to be back on the road again after all the time I have spent getting the new workshop ready. We only moved a few miles down the road but the new Green Bug workshop is so much bigger it's going to be amazing - more efficient and easier.
This week I made it back to Southampton to complete a greenhouse Tim has patiently waited for.
Customary for this time of year - the finished greenhouse photos have been taken in the dark. The light fades at around 4pm at the moment so I never end up getting good photos of the greenhouse once it's finished. These photos were taken at 2am though (after I'd had a bit of kip before the long return journey home again). Thanks to Tim and his family for letting me stay with them this week and for all the wonderful food and conversations.
Click on each