by Claudia Johnson, Jan. 4, 2018, Rose Hill Farm

I fell in love with greenhouses on my first trip to Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C. I was 17, and yes, I was impressed with the magnificent estate and its regal mansion, but those greenhouses had me at “hello.”

Having come from a family of women whose lawns were showplaces and whose windows were accented by leafy houseplants, exotic finds ordered from catalogues and colorful pots bursting with blooms, I felt inspired but under confident in my floral endeavors. I started with succulents, and with that I was relatively successful. In the unimaginable pre-Google 1970s, research meant books and magazines, and our local library had both. I spent the summer before heading to college selecting and nurturing plants that I could take to my dorm room to keep me company when I left in the fall of 1976 for a school in which I knew not one single person. Those plants kept me company for years, and when I graduated four years later, I still had a couple of them.

My next encounter with a green house was an afternoon at the U.S. Botanic Garden, part of my 18th birthday trip to Washington D.C. I ached for a greenhouse in which to experiment with plants and relax amid the earthy aroma and encompassing warmth.

Life happened, and years passed. My attempts at anything remotely like gardening were limited to picking up mums in the fall and hanging on to them until they were dead or trying to make a poinsettia live past the New Year’s ball drop.

In 2015, I was retained to create a new website for Barky Beaver Mulch and Soil Mix. As I spent a very bleak winter building pages to showcase the company’s line of products, I became inspired all over again. At that point I had exactly three plants. One was a mother-in-law’s tongue bought on sale at a grocery store. Another was a very leggy sheffeleria from my grandfather’s funeral more than a dozen years before. The third was cactus that had miraculously survived multiple moves.

Something had to change. Plants had to happen. And they did.

Follow us on to follow the progress this amateur gardener and the quest for a greenhouse.




Cactus Room, Biltmore Estate, Asheville, N.C., Summer of ’76

Nurturing Personal “Garden” at Home, Summer ’76

College Dorm Room Garden, Fall ’76

National Botanic Garden, Washington D.C., Jan. ’77

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