The new greenhouse at Newbury Elementary School. Logan Tuttle is ready to dig in. Photograph copyright 2017 Jane Booth

The Battle of the Dueling Greenhouses


Submitted 2 years ago
Created by
Jane Booth

It could only happen in Newbury, Vermont!

Last fall before winter set in there was a fight to the finish between two Newbury contractors -- Dante Sargent and Arthur Morris. Morris had been tasked with putting together the many pieces of a Janssens aluminum and glass greenhouse for Newbury Elementary school. Sargent needed to unravel and piece together plans for a wood framed Solexx plastic panel and recycled glass greenhouse.

The Phaneuf greenhouse beginning to take shape.

Photograph copyright 2017 Jane Booth.

Morris called in the putty, putty, cement mixer and had a pad poured on the south side of the elementary school then went to work sorting out aluminum bits and big sheets of glass.

Arthur Morris studying greenhouse plans.

Photograph copyright 2017 Jane Booth.

Sargent and company arrived on the scene after Newbury homeowners, Stan Phaneuf and Alice Morrison, dug and moved plantings from beside their home to make room for an excavating and concrete crew. Once the Phaneuf/Morrison greenhouse foundation was in place and the Newbury Elementary School greenhouse pad had been poured it was off to the races.

Newbury Elementary School greenhouse plans and pieces.

Photograph copyright 2017 Jane Booth.

Translucent Solexx panels and recycled windows and glass doors form the

walls of the Phaneuf/Morrison greenhouse.

Photograph Jane Booth copyright 2017.

I'm sorry to say I don't remember who finished first, but I do know who took immediate advantage of their new digs. A late winter visit to the Phaneuf/Morrison's was a treat ... the greenhouse, heated by the sun and a wood stove when necessary was warm and dripping with moisture. Alice, ever eager in her quest for new friends, brought home a tiny weeping pussy willow, Salix caprespendula. I couldn't resist and had to touch the fuzzy buds of this very cute miniature tree.

A new greenhouse friend, Salix caprespendula, weeping pussy willow.

 Photograph Jane Booth copyright 2017.

Stan had planted tomato seeds into pots before fall moved into winter. What fun to find red cherry tomatoes dangling from tall twining tomato plants. Strategically placed circulating fans move warm air around the greenhouse and cause palm fronds to wave and orchid and begonia blossoms to sway.  

Multiple stacked barrels of water painted in a heat absorbing brick red, help keep a steady temperature in the greenhouse.

Interior of the Phaneuf/Morrison greenhouse.

Jane Booth photo copyright 2017.

Cactus and succulents sat fat and happy on potting tables. A yucca-like strap-leaved plant hung out on window shelving, grown from seeds Stan's daughter had taken from a desert blooming plant she had found out west, Stan determined the plant was an American "Red Yucca", Hesperaloe parviflora.

Hesperaloe parviflora, American red yucca, germinated from found seed.

Jane Booth photo copyright 2017

The greenhouse at Newbury Elementary School remains empty and I'm tempted to commandeer the space. I'm running out of room on my basement potting table -- leeks, onions, fennel, peppers, eggplants, kohlrabi, artichokes, cardoons, and celeriac have taken up most of the limited room and I still have tomatoes and winter squash to start. The electric bill has already jumped from a hanging array of florescent lights. Hmm ...what about that empty greenhouse just across the street, I wonder if anyone would notice?

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