Jim McKenney
Thu, 02 Nov 2006 08:34:41 PST
I'm pretty sure I've mentioned a favorite: Winter Flowers in Greenhouse and
Sun-heated Pit by Kathryn S. Taylor and Edith W. Gregg, Charles Scribner's
Sons, revised edition, 1969. The first edition was published in 1941 as
Winter Flowers in the Sun-heated Pit.


The pit gardening aspect makes this is a dangerous book for those of us who
live in cold winter areas and who don't want a greenhouse. Most of my
non-gardening friends seem to think a greenhouse is every gardener's dream
of ultimate happiness. I have absolutely no interest in greenhouses,
although I might use one if I had one as a work station sheltered from rain.


But all of my gardening life I've been fascinated by cold frames and pit
houses. I've been into a few old pit houses - the kind which are partially
sunk into the ground so that one descends steps (generally in an advanced
state of decay) to enter (after crouching in self defense) a low door. 


The relative economy and naturalness of these houses really intrigue me.
They seem to open the possibility of growing the winter-growing
Mediterranean flora in our climate. 


The only hitch is that to be effective, they must be sited correctly - and
in a small garden such as mine, the right choice just isn't available. If my
neighbors would move their house, I would have the perfect spot for a pit


As things stand now, I use several cold frames; these are not to be despised
as a second best. But it's hard to get down and into a cold frame. I use the
cold frames for Parma violets, poppy anemones, garden ranunculus, borderline
arums, Algerian iris and other odds and ends, including in most years a row
of chervil. They are also handy for keeping things like Lachenalia outside
for as long as possible. 


Twice in the last two decades I've built flimsy, temporary pit houses on
less than ideal sites, and the results have been so encouraging that I may
just go ahead and build a permanent one even if the site is not perfect with
respect to sun exposure. 


Buy that book, Linda: not only will it keep you warm on many a cold winter
day, but it will give you lots of ideas and you'll realize what you're
missing out on - and if you're like me, after that no winter sunny area in
your garden will be safe after that!



Jim McKenney

Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7

My Virtual Maryland Garden


Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 

Editor PVC Bulletin


Webmaster Potomac Lily Society







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