Archive for 22/04/2014


You may recall I mentioned trying to convert an old wooden bicycle rack into a plant theatre. These are traditionally structures where small specimen plants are put on display- usually in old terracotta pots. Auriculas and Pelargoniums are some of the plants often used. Here’s an example of an Auricula Theatre recently shown at an RHS show.

Auricula Ttheatre at an RHS show
Auricula Theatre at an RHS show

To avoid losing the interesting foliage effects (or ‘bloom’) on some varieties of Auricula, its advisable for the plants to have some overhead protection from the rain. Having recently completed an Alpine planter for the Courtyard here at the Old School Garden (which is now looking splendid- I’ll put some pictures in my next ‘Dear Walter’ letter), I thought this would add another interesting feature. Here’s what the bicycle rack looked like before I got to work on it.

The old Bike Rack before it's makeover
The old Bike Rack before it’s makeover

It is a relic of the local School at Cawston and must be a good 50- 60 years old. Having reorganised our sheds and so no longer in need of a rack for our bikes, it seemed a good opportunity to recycle something with local historical links. Having measured up and done a rough design, I bought a few planks of pressure-treated gravel boards from a local timber merchant and set to work; measuring out the spacing of the ‘shelves’ that would sit on the angled frame, cutting the notches in this to receive the shelves and screwing them home. Having some black wood stain left over from the alpine planter I used this to give the whole thing a unifying finish that would tie it into the courtyard. Here’s the final result, before and after painting, with the six shelves awaiting the addition of plants.

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As I have some pelargoniums in pots I think this is what I’ll use the planter for this year, though I’ll need to purchase a few more interesting varieties and source some old 3″ or 4″ pots. Next year I might do a spring display of Primulas (including Auriculas) as well as something for the summer months. I might have to think about an overhead canopy of some sort to protect the Auriculas from rain (maybe some sort of movable ‘pram hood’ that can be pulled over from back to front?)

Once the new planter is planted up I’ll show you how it turns out!

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