What Gardening Can Do for You

Gardening is a rewarding hobby. It offers plenty of health benefits both physically and mentally. Gardening can also help enhance your home’s curb appeal, which may increase your property’s value when you decide to sell it. 

One way to improve the appearance of your property and keep your garden thriving, at the same time, is to get a custom luxury greenhouse built. With a high-quality greenhouse, you get all the benefits of gardening with less the effort.

Quick Access to Fresh Produce

With gardening, you’ll have fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruits (if you like) with your meals. It saves you time and money because you don’t have to drive to the market to buy fresh produce. Growing your food ensures that what you serve to your family is safe from chemicals. 

Eating organically produced food is better than conventionally produced ones. Researchers suggest that organic food is rich in nutrients, like iron, vitamin C, phosphorus, and magnesium, among others. 

If you have an herb garden at home, you can enhance the flavor of your meals. For instance, you can intensify your chicken dishes with fresh rosemary and thyme. If you’re in the mood for an Italian dinner, oregano and basil can give your pizza or pasta an authentic flavor. Adding freshly picked herbs to your dish enhances its nutritional value, as well. 

Apart from improving your diet, studies show that gardening offers promising benefits to your well being. 

Gardening Improves Your Health and Wellbeing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that only less than a quarter of Americans meet the national physical guidelines. Although gardening is a simple form of workout, doing it regularly can still help you achieve the recommended amount of physical activity. 

When you do gardening, it allows you to bend and stretch your body. These movements can burn calories and strengthen your muscles. Staying active reduces your risk for various health problems, including:

  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight problems
  • Type II diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Colon cancer

A garden also gives you more exposure to green spaces. The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests in a study that living in an area with access to green spaces lowers your risks for cardiovascular problems, including stroke and heart attack. People who live in greener neighborhoods also tend to have lower levels of stress. 

Bring Nature and Comfort Together in Your Home

Gardening is another way to spend quality time with your kids. Exposing your children to gardening helps them appreciate the food they eat. It can also encourage them to enjoy fruits and vegetables.

There are certain challenges to face when managing your garden, most notably weather changes. But with a high-quality greenhouse, it will be easier to handle these challenges.

As a conservatory contractor, we build smart greenhouses using high-grade materials, such as mahogany, aluminum, and glass. Our team also equips each structure with the latest technology in automation.You’ll be able to control everything in the greenhouse, including the temperature, lighting, and the irrigation system. 

Enjoy the benefits of gardening now. Contact us to know more about our services.

Winter Gardening: Ways to Keep Your Plants Healthy During Cold Season

Although it’s too late in the game to prepare your plants for winter, this is probably the time when you’re looking back and wondering what it was you should have done differently. Winter may be hard for some plants to live through, but you don’t need to “put your green thumb” into hibernation during this season.

You can still keep your plants healthy and thriving during the cold weather. Installing a greenhouse made of luxury materials, for example, is not only a beautiful addition to your property, but it can also protect your plants during winter. 

If you don’t have a greenhouse to continue to grow year-round, we know some great tips that can contribute to maintaining the health of the plants in your outside garden. And it all stems from early preparation.

Prepare Your Garden for Winter

It’s essential that you started preparing your garden as early as fall because this will give you enough time to do what is necessary to keep freezing temperatures from damaging your plants. One way to make your garden winter-ready is by ‘putting it to bed’. You can do this by pulling out all your annuals and leaving the perennials. 

You may also consider seeding in cover crops, like winter wheat. These plants serve as cover and protection for your soil during winter. When spring comes, you can till the crops into the soil. 

If you have indoor plants like cacti, you should start cutting back on watering because they will need less water in the winter. Water your cacti when the soil gets very dry and place them away from windows that let chilly air in so they won’t get too cold. 

For vegetable gardens, you need to cover tender seedlings. Most fall vegetables can survive temperatures of about 28 degrees Fahrenheit without damaging tissues. But it would be better if you have a few blankets ready to protect them overnight. Remove the blankets when the temperature increases above freezing so the heat won’t stay beneath the coverings. 

Taking Your Outdoor Plants Indoor

You can also save your container plants from the freezing temperature by bringing them indoors where the temperature is warm. But remember that not all of them can survive indoors due to their required growing conditions. It’s essential that you transfer them to a space that can provide for their unique needs for light, warmth, and humidity. 

When you’re moving outdoor plants indoors, prioritize those that are healthy for a greater chance of survival. Avoid bringing plants with pests or diseases, too. These plants can contaminate other healthy plants because problems spread easily indoors. 

It can be challenging to bring all your outdoor plants indoors, especially if you don’t have enough space for them. You may consider growing new plants using cuttings, which is a piece of a plant, be it a stem, a leaf, or a root. Plant cuttings could take much less space and they may also adapt better to new growing conditions than established plants.

Consider Building a Greenhouse

However, if you truly want to keep your plants alive during winter, adding a greenhouse to your property is really the most effective option. It allows you to have more space to grow your plants all year round. A smart greenhouse is even better because it allows you to automate the temperature, lighting condition, water, humidity and other crucial factors that contribute to a healthy growing condition. 

Our team at Conservatory Craftsmen focuses on building smart greenhouses using the finest materials and building techniques. We equip each greenhouse with automation and climate control technologies. With us you can always expect a luxurious outcome. 

Contact us today for more information.

How to Prepare Your Greenhouse for the Summer

Summer is here!

Greenhouses allow homeowners and commercial greenhouse keepers to cultivate plants that require specific conditions to grow. By keeping plants indoors, greenhouse keepers can manage outside factors to preserve the ideal environment year-round.

With summer here, greenhouse keepers should prepare for the necessary adjustments for the rising temperatures. Already, several areas in the country have seen environmental effects as summer season nears. Starting right now, it is essential to look at the following factors when adjusting for the months ahead.

Temperature

Temperatures will reach record highs in the next three months. Plants start to lose their moisture and risk withering or damaging at temperatures beginning at 81 degrees. It is necessary to prepare your greenhouse early in the day before the temperature increases, maintain the environment throughout the day, and keep it at an ideal temperature overnight. To accurately monitor the temperature, keep a room thermometer in the greenhouse.

Having open ventilation on the roof, windows, and doors can help the flow of air and decrease the hot air accumulating in the greenhouse. Another way is to provide shade on the roofs. Layers of shade paint on the roofs can filter out the sunlight and decrease the temperature. However, you will need to paint and brush them off depending on the weather. Automated blinds offer a much more versatile and long-lasting solution.

Humidity

Humidity is affected by the temperature: if the temperature increases, the moisture of the plants evaporates.  Ideally, greenhouses should be humid to mitigate the heat. Apart from watering the plants regularly to maintain its moisture, you can also keep the greenhouse damp by wetting it down. This increases the moisture in the air, ideal for plants to remain cool.

Ventilating a greenhouse lowers the temperature and humidity by decreasing the dampness inside. When the air is unable to flow, the heat gathers in the air and harms the plants. Avoid this by keeping the vents, windows, and door open to passing breezes to keep the inside of the greenhouse cool.

Install Smart Technology

Maintaining a traditional greenhouse during the summer seems to be challenging to do alone and may require more than one person to perform daily. But why should you do all the work yourself when you can have smart technology installed in your greenhouse and protect your plants with a simple push of a button? Or better yet, let us program the system so that it automatically adjusts to changing conditions – so you don’t even have to think about it!

Unlike traditional greenhouses, greenhouse manufacturers with smart technology (like us at Conservatory Craftsmen) provide automatic adjustment capabilities, addressing light, humidity, temperature, and other factors needed to create and maintain a good environment for plants.

With the high-temperature forecast for the months ahead, it is imperative that greenhouse owners make the necessary adjustments for the health of their plants. This can be done more conveniently with smart technology.

Conservatory Craftsmen‘s greenhouses are built with the latest in smart technology. Whether you want your greenhouse system to intelligently adapt as needed or control the adjustments yourself through a smart device, we can provide the environment automation you want to make your life easier.

Get in touch with us today.

Conservatory Building: 5 Decisions to Make Before You Begin

The materials, the style and many other factors of building a conservatory can help or hurt the environment.

Conservatory Construction Techniques Can Fight Global Climate Change

The natural resources of the world, though abundant, are being threatened by climate change and global warming. As a result, people are becoming more aware of their carbon footprint; how much energy we consume, the environmental factors in which their food is grown, and how to incorporate it all into our everyday life. A conservatory or greenhouse is where lifestyle meets practicality and sustainability.

When planning a home renovation, consider a conservatory or greenhouse. Traditional orangeries that originally functioned only as a place to grow plants and flowers have evolved into truly unique spaces in which to live. Conservatories and greenhouses are as custom as any other room addition; specialty muntins, hand woodworked details and stained glass makes each crystal palace one of a kind. Temperature control features keep the room comfortably tempered, without adding to electricity bills.

Read the guide below for the five decisions to make before you begin building a conservatory, or any home extension:

1. Know your goals.
Before anything else, you need to determine what you’re using the space for. Understand the size your property can accommodate, and how the design will work with the existing structure of the home.

2. Create a plan.
Now that you know what you want and what purpose the addition is for, you need to map out your plan. Communicate openly and regularly with your builder; make sure that all payment installments are in writing, and that expectation is set in terms of time to completion.

3. Set up a budget.
In setting up a budget, make sure it is realistic and within your means. This is a complicated process as the budget can restrict the whole process. Get quotes from several trusted contractors and understand the cost of labor in relation to the cost of materials.

4. Hire the right people.
Ask for as many references and feedback as you can before handing over any deposits. Check for negative feedback and complaints as well as certifications. Your choice will depend on your goals and budget, but there should be a long line of clients willing to offer a recommendation.

5. Prepare for inconveniences.
Because you hired the right people, this step, in theory, should be unnecessary. But the reality is that big projects with many details can run into unforeseen issues. Make sure to set aside a few extra dollars for unexpected problems.

Spring Planning for Your Outdoor Space

It’s early Spring. We have the itch we can feel it in the air, it’s time to get to work. Let’s start tagging, pinning and planning our outdoor spaces. This popular conservatory space will assist in providing inspiration!

Yes, it’s true while working on this project Illinois the homeowners provided us with enough Chicago style pizza that we brought home a few extra inches on our waists. This outdoor space made a lasing impression on us. The exterior walk up bar is the perfect spot to set drinks our your gooey slice of brick oven pizza.img_5012
How can you duplicate this space with your own backyard kitchen?

1) Plan your space. Get your ideas on paper. Talk to Landscape professional. Planning on the front end will save many headaches when under construction

2) How do you want your pizza oven to function?

Wood burning like this?

Wood burning ovens achieve a couple of dramatic effects:

  • Very high temperatures
  • Reduced cooking time
  • Thermal drafts in the oven from live wood create a natural current of warm air much like a convection oven so the pizza is cooked very evenly (this assumes that you use an actual, well designed wood oven).
  • Smoke from the wood infuses the crust with just a hint of live fire.

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Or gas?

Gas ovens are an inexpensive option.
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3) How do you want the space to feel?

Are you looking for and extensive hardscape project?
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Our conservatory project had 3-4 intimate spaces where people could sit, chat and munch on pizza. The hardscapes were designed with plants and people in mind.
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4) Now let’s accessories!

Lighting is an important factor to consider for any space but especially an outdoor one, where proper lighting can be easily overlooked. Accent lighting adds a decorative touch but one should first consider proper landscape lighting.

 

Furniture: The market is saturated with outdoor furniture. Be sure to select something that fits your space and can be easily stored in the off seasons. Comfort and fade-resistant fabrics are important too!

Seating: Smaller, more intimate seating area are great for conversation
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Prep Area: A great tip is to incorporate an outdoor pantry so you can save multiple trips to your kitchen. Granite is a great surface that can withstand exterior elements. A small prep area will save you from juggling at the table.
The Spring fever is really here and we are ready to go! And make a pizza…

Seed Starting in the Conservatory

The Holiday season is over, the decorations are down, the winter has a firm grip on life, and the mind begins to dream about the next season. Spring!

Last year was not a kind spring. Everything was late. I had to feed my poor bees until the third week of June before pollen finally was available in the typical spring blooms.

This year will be different. We are all hoping for that. So, let’s make a list and go seed shopping! Here are some helpful gardening tips that will guide you through seed starting in your conservatory.

Seedlings Emerge in the Greenhouse

1) Avoid the impulse to buy seeds at the ‘box store’. Nothing against box stores, but a lot against impulse seed buying. I did this for years and then after it was too late, regretted the plants and the harvest. You put a lot of time (all summer) into growing the plants, why not take a couple of minutes and study the varieties available and make good choices. The University of Minnesota is a great place to start. Check with your local Land Grant University for suggestions.

2) Be sure to stay ahead of the season. Or pay the price of expensive potting plants, with little variety to select from. Many garden centers spray growth inhibitor on the seedlings to they stay full, and don’t get long and leggy in the garden center. Problem is, they stay stunted and are poor producers. So there are several reasons to start you own seeds: cost, quality control and fun! Not all plants transplant well into the garden (beets, carrots). Make a calendar and plant your seeds by the clock!

3) Do not use seed ‘Catalogs’. The internet is a better source for a seed shopper. Avoid companies, just because they offer a sale. Not saying it won’t be a good deal, but seed quality is the most important. Note, I am not saying don’t buy seeds from companies who send catalogs, what I am saying is study the plants on the internet for full information. I recently looked at a seed catalog. It offered 9 seeds in the pack, for $3.49! After careful shopping, I was able to buy the same variety with 150 seeds in the pack for $1.49.

4) Design your garden. Impulsive gardens that result from buying plants at the nursery never work out. When in doubt, try ‘Square Foot Gardening’, but be sure if its vegetables or flowers, you have a plan on paper first. Go on Youtube and look at time saving techniques like ‘how to make your own seed tape’. It saves seeds and gets a fun project for the kids to do with you while you wait last frost of the year.

5) Organize. I make up a 3 ring binder and keep my notes in it from year to year. Plan the garden and follow the plan! I have a mixed light exposure around the conservatory. Lots of sun, some morning sun and some shady. I love it. I have a full pallet to paint with.
Water plants in the morning. Keep the young tender plants out of direct sun.

There is Order and Relaxation in the Planting of Seeds

6) Coordinate. Look at plant options. I Google things like “purple flowers that grow in sun“. You get to see lots of photos of plants that inspire. Pick a plant. Let’s say you are attracted to Salvia, a great plant that has great cut flowers, grows in sun, and of course I selected a purple variety.
Now, Google ‘Salvia’ and many suppliers will pop up. Look at their options. Now you can compare various promotions the companies offer, and order your seeds.

7) Track. Start a chart either on a piece of paper or a spreadsheet. List the plant, where you are ordering from (I bought mine from Swallowtail), the length of time to germination, and instructions on germination. This is important and often overlooked. Some plants do best planted in the soil where they go through the process and send up shoots. However, due to hormones in the seeds, some plants germinate in light and require to be at the surface of the planting to be successful. Make this note on your spreadsheet.

I can’t wait to get my seeds in the mail next week. Gardening is an enjoyable hobby , but like the professionals say it is 50% planning and 50% luck and I wish you all the luck my friends!

 

Six Automated Window Systems and Five New Air Conditioners

Natural Ventilation for Modern Office Buildings

While traditional mechanical heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are still widely used, contemporary concerns for improving the environmental performance and “livability” of buildings has led to an increased interest in alternatives like natural ventilation and mixed-mode systems.

A major benefit of HVAC, particularly in deep plan and larger office buildings, is that they alleviate many of the problems associated with a naturally ventilated building such as noise, dust, insects, heavy winds, odors and uncomfortable temperatures.

However, there are some studies suggesting that a mixed-mode ventilation system of HVAC and natural ventilation, in combination with good passive design, can provide sufficient indoor air quality to keep occupants happy while reducing their reliance on mechanical air treatment.

Typically, a mixed-mode system operates in either of two modes and is best used for buildings’ perimeter spaces or for narrow planned buildings with good cross ventilation. The first is the natural ventilation mode that uses fresh external air from operable windows or dampers to cool the internal spaces and relies predominantly on the stack effect for hot air to be expelled through high-level exhausts. The second is the mechanical mode and sees the windows closed and the HVAC switched on and is used only when the external temperatures are too hot or too cold for natural ventilation, or when there is a heavy wind or rain.

Control of the operable windows can be manual or automatic and, in keeping with current trends towards automated buildings, we’re seeing more automated window systems come to the market that are compatible with Building Management Systems (BMS).

Some window manufacturers offer built-in automated systems that can be controlled by a BMS and that come with inputs for automated weather stations and sensors that detect smoke, rain, hail, temperature, wind, time, and smog. Others advertise that their products can be easily automated with add-on products like actuators and reed switches, and can also incorporate into a BMS.

These products render manual operation from building occupants—one of the most difficult-to-control influences on a building’s environmental impact—unnecessary, as the BMS detects when it is optimal to open and close windows and to operate the HVAC.

Some of the problems associated with the manual operation of a building’s HVAC and natural ventilation, like occupants leaving windows open with the HVAC on for example can, therefore, be avoided with automated mixed-mode air-conditioning.

Readying Your Greenhouse For Winter

This week is Daylight Savings Time, which means winter is right around the corner. Here are some tips from Mandy Watson of The Shields Gazette on getting your greenhouse ready for winter.

If you have a greenhouse, or any structure that you’re overwintering plants in, your number one priority is making sure it’s clean. Not only must it be frost-free, but pest-free.

Cleaning the greenhouse and conservatory is my least favourite job, but a necessary evil.

Here’s what you need to down to reduce the risk of pests:

1) On a mild day, take everything possible outside.
2) Scrub off any old shade paint from the summer.
3) Brush or vacuum surfaces to remove all debris.
4) Hose down the exterior and interior on a soaker setting, to loosen any pests/eggs and lichen.
5) Wash down glass with warm soapy water and a sponge. A breezy day will mean it dries out more quickly.
6) Spray all surfaces with Citrox, a powerful organic citrus extract disinfectant for cleaning greenhouses, pots, staging, tools, seed trays, bird feeders and bird baths. It doesn’t harm plants and it’s effective against bacterial and fungal diseases.
7) Glass is best done with an anti-bacterial washing-up liquid – it doesn’t streak.
8) Check that all ventilation panels/windows are working.
9) Finally, check over plants that you’re overwintering carefully BEFORE bringing them in – you don’t want them to be harbouring pests. Cut things like geraniums back outside first – and check pot rims and bases for hidden slugs, snails and vine weevils.

A Home Addition Worth the Investment

I began to build conservatories back in 1988. Back then, I was representing Amdega Conservatories, out of Darlington UK. I would present their incredible catalog to prospective homeowners, and without any pause, the first words out of their mouths “when I win the lottery!”
It was a polite way of saying “I could never afford this”, and that was just from looking at the pictures. No one even asked the price of a conservatory! But had they looked closer, they would have realized that it’s very similar to any other home addition.

Naturally, projects of that investment level often required the assistance of an architect in the overall planning. They would begin to work with the Amdega template and soon discovered that Amdega was actually a kit which only came in specific sizes and dimensions. The architect quickly then realized that they could not ‘design’ a conservatory, only manipulate one.
Back in those days, I made a vow that:
1. Conservatories would be affordable
2. Conservatories would be custom designed to fit any situation presented by the architect
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My search began in England, as that would be the logical place to explore options in the conservatory industry. I brought back many ideas, many of which would never fly in our harsh Minnesota climate. Most of the UK, had been invaded by vinyl (UPVC as they call it). There was a huge development in that industry in Europe and windows and doors were flying off their hinges as consumers got in line to replace their old wooden, single pane sashes, with UPVC framed, double pane glass. Out with the charm and in with the warm!

While the conservatory industry was thriving in the UK, I was exploring for better ideas. I brought the vinyl idea back to the US and met with many architects and building officials – I still am grateful to a building inspector in the City of St Paul who took much of his time to help me research the products – but in the end, it was a thumbs down, and here were the reasons why.

Vinyl, though being a non-maintenance item, does not mean it has great longevity. UPVC companies have spent fortunes trying to make vinyl UV resistant, and have come great distances with the research. At the end of the day, however, it still deteriorates. Eventually, it will turn hard, brittle and break. How do I know this? We have done many repairs and maintenance on vinyl structures around the country to find when we remove roof sections, the extrusions crumble. OK, so just contact the manufacturing company right? Well, guess what, they are either out of business, they no longer make that part anymore, or have upgraded and improved.

Oh, did I mention the Henry Ford philosophy that applies to vinyl rooms? You can have any color you want, as long as its white!

It is definitely something to consider when shopping for any product in your life. What happens when this product ages and you cannot obtain parts anymore? Well, if it’s a stereo or TV, you get a new one. But, I am discussing an addition you just put on your home! An ‘improvement’ that has a shelf life, like a car and needs to be replaced!

That is why our conservatories are wood or aluminum. Let’s say, for discussion sake, that a tree falls on your conservatory. Bad luck, I know, but it could happen. There is nothing on our rooms that we cannot replace 20 years after we build them, meaning you do not have a depreciating investment on your home.

Now let’s talk about price. One would think brand name conservatories, you know, the manufactured products sold by the big names (not to be mentioned, but you know who they are), would be cheaper. Well, you are correct, the are cheaper – for the company, but not the consumer.
Remember, we are a small, family, sell direct company with no middle men. We design, we counsel, we educate; we do not sell. We assist you with making a wise and lasting choice when buying something as serious as an addition that will long affect the value of your home.

Unlike the new car you just bought, your conservatory should add value to your home for all the years you live there. It should be the feature that sells the home. Joan M. had me build a conservatory for her a few years back but because of a work transfer she had to sell the house. She called me to say that the first people who walked into the house, walked right into the conservatory and said ‘we’ll take it!’ Sold! One conservatory with attached home.

If you bought a new Chevrolet, we have a conservatory for you. If you bought a new Audi or Lexus, we have a conservatory for you. If you bought a new Porsche, we have a conservatory for you.

Take a look at our new e-brochure and find the custom conservatory that fits for you.

Logee’s – The Botanical Wonderland for Conservatory Owners

Hidden in an unassuming old building in rural CT is a treasure of botanical wonder. If you are directed to Logee’s you may stop, but if just passing by, you may not even notice, but behind the century-old façade of a rural farm home lies some of the most unusual and highly prized ornamental plants in the country.

Byron Martin, Logee’s Owner

Owned by Byron and Laurelynn Martin, the greenhouse was first started in 1882 by Bryon’s grandfather.

Byron worked in the greenhouse with his father and grandfather and eventually went off to school, not planning to return, but eventually heeded the call when his time came.

Horticulturalist, Jeff Ellsworth from New York City claims that most of the rare plants purchased by the NY Botanical come from Logee’s. They work the world market to find both rare plants and improved varieties of old friends.

The last time I visited, Byron welcomed me as an old friend. As we walked through the greenhouses, Byron said, ‘wait here’ and he disappeared into an old house to come out minutes later with a small dark red bean. Miracle Bean he called it and invited me to try it. I have to admit it did not taste like much, but I was polite and ate the bean.

A few minutes later, Byron showed up with a huge Meyer Lemon from one of his trees and he cut deep into it with his pocket knife as the juice squeezed out onto the ground. He handed me a section to bite into. I was already salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs when I bit into the lemon and to my surprise, it tasted like I just chewed into a sugar bowl! Miracle Bean had deadened my ‘bitter’ sensors and all I could taste was sweet. According to Byron, it acts the same with dill pickles and any other sour food.

These are just some of the many plants growing at Logee’s and there are thousands more. Go online to Logees.com and look through the site or request a catalog. They ship thousands of plants to conservatory customers all over the country. The exploration of the greenhouses is like no other. Not a ‘big box’ greenhouse but small, intimate growing spaces with dirt floors and crooked walls and paths that lead to yet more greenhouses!

Laurelynn showed me a Kumquat that was 140 years old and growing in a greenhouse, right in the middle of an aisle. And an orange growing every variety of orange they cultivate at Logee’s.

Today was “summer fest” and over 1000 locals were about to descend on the greenhouses to find that plant like no other. I left with an Arabica coffee plant for my brother’s birthday and a citrus tree for a new conservatory customer. Citrus plants are their biggest sellers.

We are happy that Byron and Laurelynn Martin of Logee’s have accepted our invitation to spread the news of great plants and well-crafted conservatories to America.
Watch for us in coming months whilst we feature new plant varieties available at Logee’s and as you see conservatories showing up in their catalogs and web pages.