A Mid-Winter Booster Shot Courtesy of the Community Greenhouse


I started the week out on the good foot with a reinvigorating morning at the community greenhouse I visited last winter in the suburbs of Toronto. Oh that good air and the smell of warm soil and life. The smells! There were smells. I left feeling energetic and doing air punches in my head. Suck it winter!

Community Greenhouse

Last time I regretted bringing only a digital camera along. The personal details and quirks took me by surprise and were something I had wished I could capture with my film camera. Remembering my mistake, I left it behind and focussed on shooting film this time. Once I shot off a few rolls I could not resist capturing a few shots (actually about a hundred!) with my cellphone to share with you here. I hope they give you a little booster shot of colour — an inoculate against the mid-winter doldrums.

Community Greenhouse

Shortly after arriving we met a sweet man named Romeo who was there watering his plants — mainly orchids from his home country (the Philippines) and these unique double Bougainvillea. I’ve seen a lot of Bougainvillea courtesy of trips to tropical locales, but I have never seen a double flower before! We got to talking for some time and like most gardeners Romeo was as generous as can be, sending us off with clippings to add to our collections. Uli was given a very sturdy colocasia and I now have clippings from a red kohleria and an orchid that I truly hope I can keep alive in this dry house.

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Haworthia attenuata, a wonderful succulent houseplant.

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At the end of the morning Uli asked me which plants I liked best and without hesitation I directed her to this incredibly creamy variegated Aloe arborescens. It’s like a striped octopus!

Community Greenhouse

Uli and I marvelled at the way this sansevieria was able to survive cramped into a tiny pot. Nice form, though.

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Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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6 thoughts on “A Mid-Winter Booster Shot Courtesy of the Community Greenhouse

  1. Pining for summer!!! Can’t wait to start onion and leek seeds in the next few weeks…. January really is the most awful month for gardeners. If only booking a cruise to some sunny island was in my budget/schedule. Alas, seed catalogs will have to do for now!

  2. A community greenhouse, how absolutely wonderful. I could spend ages wandering round in there, it’s fascinating. Sometimes I just wander round our allotment site looking at everything and enjoying all the little details. Your friend is lucky to have a bench there, it’s an oasis, especially in winter. I wish they’d catch on over here.

  3. I do love a greenhouse! The humidity, the fabulous smell of dirt and flowers you mentioned—a taste of the tropics in winter is such a thrilling boost. Always cheers me up.

  4. Thanks Gayla for these pictures!!! I would have more houseplants to keep me through the winter but my cats find them endlessly fascinating so I have to settle for pictures.

  5. I love greenhouses in the winter! I am sometimes tempted to pinch a cutting but then I remember how I would feel if someone did that to my garden, and so I keep my hands to myself. My nose on the other hand is always stuck into a flower :-)

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