Essentially, I think we ornamentalists are in the business of producing and nurturing beauty in one of its most recognized forms: the flower. Oh sure, and seductive foliage, too. During the summer our job is easy: sow the seeds or stick the plants in and watch beauty happen. But what if you live in a zone lower than 7 and you want to grow flowers over the winter?
As an unabashed anglophile and reader of novels where the heroines wander out to the greenhouse, their skirts trailing after them, to flirt with their beaus and choose the flowers for the next dinner party, I have longed, yearned, lusted after a greenhouse of my own. Something along the lines of Angels and Insects (above), or maybe the one in Edith Wharton’s The Buccaneers. But an English country estate is not in the cards for me, I fear. So this summer, I decided to create a mini-semi-kind-of-greenhouse of my own, inside the house, where I wouldn’t have to brave Buffalo weather to get to it.
We actually have many of the prerequisites in place: cool night temps (we keep the thermostat way low), good air circulation, and decent humidity. I can boost the humidity pretty easily. My big problem is adding light. The small room I am using has a tallish south-facing window, but it will need help. So I started surfing for lighting with great optimism, only to find that most lighting for plants looks like early penitentiary, design-wise. See, the thing is, as an ornamentalist, I’d like this room to actually be attractive, almost as attractive as the plants that I hope will thrive inside it. We’ve already installed some nice flooring and painted and plastered.
Am I crazy to think that plant lights shouldn’t have to look like something you’d use in an interrogation chamber? It’s also unclear which lights actually work for the plants and which are making fraudulent claims. Speaking of fraudulent claims, I’ve also wondered if the lights meant to simulate sunlight for people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)—you Southerners and Sunset-zoners may not have heard of this—might also work for plants. I doubt it, but they’re a lot better-looking.
So my search continues, but I do wonder why—given all the inventive lighting design I see for other purposes—the plant lighting people can’t get with it and create some effective AND attractive solutions for interior growing?
Oh, sure I’ll probably end up buying some utilitarian strip of flourescent lights or other, but not with much enthusiasm.