The Kentish Alps in a greenhouse


Dr Adrian Cooper


I am absolutely thrilled with it.  It was a very specific design and Griffin Glasshouses exceeded all the expectations.

Perched on a high ridge in the heart of Kent, one can find an extraordinary greenhouse feature – an ‘Alpine’ outcrop that enjoys a steady flow of fresh air, sunlight, and shade.

The Griffin Victorian greenhouse, specifically designed for Dr. Adrian Cooper, houses an 8-ton mound of Kentish Ragstone. This unique setting nurtures some of Britain’s rarest Alpine plants.

“Working with Griffin Glasshouses, we designed the 16’ x 24’ glasshouse so that the ventilation would produce a constant cross stream of fresh air. To try to further emulate natural Alpine conditions the structure is deliberately sited to catch maximum sunlight until the afternoon. This is when, as would happen in Switzerland, it dips into shade,” explains Dr Cooper, who is a geo-chemist.

His home in Kent serves as an Alpine greenhouse, sheltering over 400 plant species from his impressive collection of more than 2000. These plants symbolize his lifelong passion. Through his expertise, he cultivated some of the rarer species from seeds and cuttings. He acquired others from friends and specialist growers spread across Europe.

“It’s really a giant rockery,” he explains. “I knew the conditions I wanted and Griffin Glasshouses’ technical director, Paul Smith, quickly and correctly interpreted them into the final design. It took about two weeks to erect and a major part of its success is the controlled ventilation.”

Features of the ‘Alpine House’

  • The greenhouse sports a large roller blind shade on the south-facing roof and side. This feature is vital for maintaining optimal temperature control for your delicate plants.
  • This greenhouse is designed with two full-length roof vents and two full-length side vents that you can operate with ease. These provide additional ventilation.
  • Two fully opening doors at the two gable ends of the Victorian greenhouse have been installed, granting further control over temperature.
  • A charming touch has been added to your gardening experience with the inside paths beautifully paved with reclaimed York stone.
  • The greenhouse is not just functional but also pleasing to the eye. It sits on a 2.5-foot high wall built using reclaimed bricks with lime mortar, seamlessly blending with any garden landscape.

Griffin Glasshouses’ Paul Smith comments “It has been a fascinating challenge to try and replicate a high altitude location using just positioning, ventilation and shading. This is a very traditional looking glasshouse but we constructed it using the very latest materials so that it is virtually maintenance free.”

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