Create A Wintergarden in Your Own Back Yard


Irish skies pretty much betray us all winter. They drizzle on us, dump snow or ice (or both) on us, and insist on being cold and dark. But is there a way to get around this harsh treatment from the sky? There is now… thanks to a new innovation.

If you have a normal back garden in Ireland… rectangular-shaped, with the house on one end and walls on all three sides, then here’s an idea for you. Instead of shunning your garden for six months of the year because of cold or drippy weather, now there is a solution. And it is directly stolen from the Americans. In the hotter states of the USA, many people have pools. But in the colder months, they can’t part with them. They want to keep swimming, damn it. So they invented the retractable pool cover.

Forget the pool, we are making this into a garden!

Also called a telescopic pool enclosure, it is stroke of genius that can be used here, too, albeit without the pool.



In the warmer months, those smart Americans press a button and roof retracts like a telescope, making a small awning on the side of the house. The pool is now fully outdoors, and enjoys full sunlight.

In the winter, the clear roof can be put back over the pool, sealing it from the outside elements like wind, rain and cold, but still letting the sun through. How about we install these in Ireland? We could have them open during beautiful sunny summer days, where we can get the lovely sun on our skins. And then when winter arrives we can put a lovely clear roof over our gardens, and the grass and plants will survive because they still will have the full sunlight. On a rainy day we can open it for a few hours to let the sky water the plants, and Bob’s your favourite uncle! And let’s face it you could still hang your washing outside all winter and it won’t get jet-sprayed with water from above. It’s win-win, everywhere. A number of companies are starting to offer retractable covers not just for pools but now for gardens too. So now you have your wintergarden covered, what are you going to deck it out with?

Evergreen Joy

Now you have your covered wintergarden, what plants are you going to put it in? Well, tall trees here are not your friends. If you want to keep them then they will have to fall outside the perimeter of your fancy new wintergarden. A good idea is to plant only evergreen plants in your garden. That way you can enjoy nature all year round, and you won’t have to pick up leaves for three months of every year. Imagine, all the enjoyment of a garden without the work! Phew.

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Clematis are a lovely flowering plant that are evergreen. They like the sun and also do well in partial shade. All you have to do is tidy them up a bit after their flowering period.



Shade grass seeds are the ticket to maintaining a beautiful grassy strip all year. Available in every garden shop, these are fast-growing and more hardy that most grass seeds, and will survive the darker winter months.



Mahonia are typically grown for their attractive dark green foliage. They are an evergreen shrub that have gorgeous yellow long-stalked flowers which will brighten any garden. Mahonia are easy to grow without much trouble. They will grow in the sun, in the shade and in partial shade.



Climbing Hydrangea are low-maintenance, they are evergreen, and great for a shady wall. They take a few years to get started but after that time they take off. They will turn a drab corner into a burst of colour. In summer the flowers can be enormous and are so beautiful to look at.



Rhododendron comes from the Greek words rodon which means rose and dendron which means tree, hence “rose tree.” Rhododendrons are excellent shrubs as their flowers are beautiful and they are evergreen and suit Ireland’s weather well. These flowers will enhance any wintergarden beautifully. ■

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