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Thomas J. Story

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This garden cottage is more playhouse than greenhouse for its Central California owner. The avid gardener raises seedlings and overwinters orchids here. Comfort was a major factor: The shed is designed to let in plenty of daylight while minimizing prolonged exposure to direct sun during the Central Valley’s very hot summers. It is oriented slightly off a direct east-west axis and its most westerly wall is solid. Prefab siding covers the wood frame; asphalt tiles cloak the roof. A ‘Cecile Brunner’ climbing rose adds an appropriately floral touch.

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Durable furnishings and well-organized tools and materials are key to a small but efficient workspace. Here’s what makes this greenhouse/shed a pleasure to spend time in:

  • Fixtures: Sturdy table and shelves stand up to dirt and heavy pots. Tools are stored conveniently in galvanized metal trash cans or on metal hooks attached to the overhead shelf.
  • Temperature control: Good ventilation helps keep the greenhouse cooler in summer. An oscillating fan, and wetting the gravel floor with a hose, help with evaporative cooling. When temperatures get too hot, plants are moved to a shaded patio; on cool winter nights, a small heater keeps things cozy.