Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Lath House 2.0

On July 6th when our temperature soared to 110F (43C), the heat, intense sun exposure, and high winds combined to sear many of my plants, including tender specimens in the lath (shade) house my husband built me last December.  I'd mistakenly assumed that the lath structure and the large plants surrounding it on the south and west sides would be sufficient to protect the plants inside.  I was wrong.  The begonias, fuchsias, and orchids suffered most and it was clear that, if I want to grow these plants, I needed to increase the amount of shade they receive during our long summer season.  Renee (Gardening Turned Up to Eleven), who is used to dealing with incendiary temperatures, suggested using temporary screens to provide extra protection as needed and I immediately began researching my options.  Then I consulted my "builder" about an upgrade.  He quickly got to work on outfitting my lath house with custom shades.  These were completed and installed late last week, just in time for our current heatwave.

From the outside the structure doesn't look much different, does it?

This is the sun screen fabric we selected, conveniently available at one of our local big box stores

To provide interim protection, we tacked an old sheet to the inside of the lath house roof (left).  Elegant, huh?  My husband's custom roof shades (right), constructed in 2 pieces, look much better.

The lath house has an irregular shape so each screen section had to be constructed according to exacting measurements.  My husband stained the lath used to make the shade cloth frames to match the original structure.  They fit seamlessly in place.

He even stamped each piece to indicate where it belongs.  This one fits into the west side on the left.  The shades were placed inside the top and middle shelves on the south and west sides of the structure.  We left the bottom area and the east and north sides of the structure uncovered.


Once the shades were in place, I cleaned the space and moved the plants I'd shifted to the floor during the July heatwave into place on the upper shelves.  It's amazing how much cooler it is inside now with the shades in place.

This is a view of the inside of the structure from the upper level of the garden

A closer look from the ground level

The large, sad-looking plant in the corner of the upper shelf is Hoya multiflora (aka shooting stars plant).  It'd been in the window of my home office for years but, despite blooming nearly continuously, it'd developed yellow leaves I haven't succeeded in treating.  I gave it a larger pot and new soil in the hope it'll return to its former glory but, hedging my bets, I also took a cutting from a healthy stem.  

I potted up the seedlings I germinated from seeds collected from my Ferraria crispa.  I still have to repot a few of my orchids.

The flowering begonias are blooming again - they rebounded better than the begonias grown chiefly for their foliage.  The gardenia, always positioned in this corner on the southeast side took the early July heatwave in stride.


I tossed out a couple of plants that were badly damaged by that first major heatwave, but moved a few others, like the Hoya multiflora, into the space.  I also moved the pretty Caladiums that finally leafed out into more prominent positions and added a very pretty but expensive Tillandsia I picked up at a bromeliad sale last week.

I planted Caladiums 'Candyland' (left) and 'Miss Mufflet' (right, shown with Fuchsia 'Galfrey Lye') from tubers.  They took so long to leaf out I'd almost given up on them but, while still relatively small, they've finally earned a prominent space in the newly arranged lath house.

This is Tillandsia 'Isaac Jogues', which I picked up and put back at least 3 times before finally carrying it to the cashier, despite the 20% off sale


My fingers are crossed that all my lath house treatures will be happy through the remainder of what's stacking up to be a tough summer.


All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

34 comments:

  1. Your builder is very talented. You'd better keep him around! The new screens are terrific and the new tillandsia is gorgeous! Funny, my garden is so shady, I have to search for spots that can accomodate plants that require full sun.

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    1. My former garden was 95% shade, Peter, and also very tiny. If it weren't for the blankety-blank "view conservation" ordinance here, I'd have a lot more trees and this garden would also be a lot shadier.

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  2. I pronounce the new tillandsia Worth It! It's remarkable what shade cloth can achieve; more kudos to your talented, meticulous builder.

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    1. The price of that Tillandsia did nearly make me choke, Nell, but, since I got it home and hung it up, I haven't regretted the purchase.

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  3. The screens looks really nice ... Orchids would be happy !

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    1. More orchids are on my wish list, Linda!

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  4. This is such a nice house and your "builder" is very talented!
    I myself had to put my chili plants in a shady place too. I never thought that it could be too hot for them here.

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    1. When the heat is intense, as I haveve heard it has been in Europe too, a surprising number of plants prefer a bit of shade, Sigrid. Here, many succulents, even agaves, are subject to sunburn when the sun is intense.

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  5. I'm impressed by your ability to get something done outdoors in this heat, Kris. All hail Mr. Builder! His craftsmanship is a marvel.

    When the temperatures are like this my brain turns to mush. There's much to be done, but I just can't do anything in this heat.

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    1. I'm getting less and less resilient with each passing day, HB! The excessive heat warning was extended for another 2 days here and in your area too I suspect. Yesterday was supposed to be the hottest day of the week but today was worse still - we hit 96F.

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  6. You're so very fortunate to have such a handy husband! He did a wonderful job and hopefully will make a huge difference for your plants. That certainly is a lot of plants to water in a heat wave. Wears me out just thinking about how much sweating that would be.

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    1. I was concerned that watering a lot of pots would become tedious, Cindy, but puttering in my lath house is such a pleasure that the time and effort hasn't been an issue (at least not yet).

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  7. Wow, you are a lucky gardener to have a spouse who is so handy and also willing to do a major project and then a major upgrade. That is such a beautiful little building, I love it. And hopefully now the plants will, too. Our temps in the low 90s were so awful that I just can't even imagine over 100 degrees.

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    1. My husband is super-handy, so much so that not only I but also neighbors and friends have become dependent on his assistance, Linda. I sometimes feel guilty when soliciting his help but he seems to derive satisfaction from helping others.

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  8. Wow. That is some custom shade job. Your plants should be safe now. Best of luck. I can see why you couldn't resist the tillandsia.

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    1. That Tillandsia is pretty, isn't it? I looked for a smaller, less expensive plant in the same species but all the seller seemed to have in stock was this pricey specimen. I had no choice!

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  9. Your husband is a gem. We're having some pretty awful temperatures here right now too. It's supposed to hit a high of 94 today here and 100 in Portland. I was down there yesterday and it was so uncomfortable. Keeping my fingers crossed that your blazing sun and heat don't fry more of your plants.

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    1. He is a gem, Alison. If we hadn't been married to him forever already, I'd marry him again! Our temperature hit 96F today, higher than yesterday although it was supposed to be cooler. Ugh!

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  10. I agree with everyone else...you are a lucky lady to have such a handy husband!!! But really, it looks so cool inside . Quite a job, and more of an undertaking than you had bargained for. But oh so worth it!

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    1. We hadn't any personal experience in building or using a lath house when we started, Libby, so I suppose it was to be expected that tweaks would be required. I'm lucky my husband is such an accommodating fellow!

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  11. Oh to have a handyman husband - the stuff of dreams! :)
    Let's hope the shades do the trick.
    LOVE your new tillandsia - it is beautiful!

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    1. I must have done something right in a past life, Eliza, to deserve a husband like the one I got.

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  12. Your shade house looks wonderful, and so cleverly modified to make it even more shady. The plants look so happy and ordered in there. I’m pleased for you that most things bounced back after all your awful weather. I hope it begins to cool down soon. We are hearing about the terrible fires in Ca and wondering what is in store for us this coming summer.

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    1. The forecast was for a cool-down starting today, Jane, but instead it got hotter. The fires are depressing, especially as the current one closest to us, as well as the earlier one in Idyllwild, were apparently the result of arson. However, last year's worst fire happened in December, on the cusp of winter here, so seasons seem to have little bearing on the fire risk now. Not that that's remotely comforting.

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  13. Oh yes - my mother grew her orchids in a shade house. A much simpler straightforward rectangular structure, covered with dark green shade cloth.
    Your plants should flourish now! Looking very appealing.

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    1. It's a small space, Diana, but valued nonetheless. I'm going to have to become more selective about what I shelter there as I'm quickly running out of room.

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  14. Well done Mr Builder ! Shade cloth is a wonderful invention-I use it clothespinned over small tomato cages when I plant anything new in the heat of summer.

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    1. Yes, I was thinking that I need to look into using the cloth in other ways to provide emergency shelter, Kathy. Like you, I know Hoover Boo (Piece of Eden) also creates shades covers to safeguard new plants in place.

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  15. The custom shade covers are things of beauty. His location stamps made me smile. We’ve got the same type of notations on the plastic pieces we use to build the shade pavilion greenhouse, only they’re written I black marker. Yours are so much more classy!

    I feel better about our temperatures highs knowing they’re the same as yours...and we’re in “cool rainy” (the stereotype persists) Portland.

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    1. Ugh, I hate to think that Portland's summer temperatures are veering in the direction of ours, Loree. I want to believe that there will still be beautiful, green landscapes out there, even as ours gets browner with each passing year.

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  16. Oh, I hope it works! Your builder is quite impressive - that is a beautiful solution and so organized too. Best of luck with all the heat... Is summer over yet?!

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    1. Wouldn't it be nice if summer had an expiration date?! I used to look forward to mid-September, then mid-October. Now?

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  17. Wow, your husband can turn his hand to anything. Not only do you have more shade but it loks fabulous. I have never seen a tillandsia like that before, it is lovely. What a joy it will be for you to have your treasures protected from the searing heat.

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    1. It's amazing what difference shade makes. I wish our community had a better appreciation for trees - the emphasis here on conserving views will be meaningless if those views are dominated by burned brown foliage and the formerly blue sky is covered by a nearly continuous smoky gray haze.

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