A greenhouse in cold climates holds the promise of spring inside. That’s what captivates Teresa Koppes each day as she walks to her grand Victorian-style “flower palace,” where she carefully winters over her plants and flowers. It may be very functional but this is no ordinary shed–it is the grande dame of greenhouses, white as Montana snow and punctuated by ornate architectural detail. It’s easy to understand why Teresa’s greenhouse became the April 2021 showpiece for She Shed Living’s calendar. It can also be found on the jigsaw puzzle.
A Place to Bloom
Winters are long and cold in Montana, the country’s fourth largest state and one of its least populated. For the people who live there, it’s a daily gift of natural wonders, fresh air and wide-open space.
That’s why Teresa Koppes and her family moved there 21 years ago. “We were ready to escape the rat race,” she says. Montana is where she and her husband raised their children, and they never looked back. Teresa, a gifted gardener and photographer, is blessed with a few acres of land around her home–plenty of room for a large greenhouse, in which she could tend to her potted blooms and also propagate her favorites.
A local carpenter understood Teresa’s vision and got to work. She wanted lofty heights with a high pitched roof and of course plenty of windows to let in the sunlight. The green house is 12 feet by 16 feet and has a central entrance on the long side with a fanciful portico jutting out. Capping off the polycarbonate paneled roof is a long, low cupola. The structure is a marvel of symmetry and scale; Teresa beautifully captures it in her photos, always in harmony with its surroundings.
How Her Garden Grows
During the long winters, Teresa checks in on her plants. Everything must be watered and pruned as needed. “I set a reminder on my phone to make sure the door is shut when I’m done,” Teresa says. “We’ll often get hard frost or even snow up until May. I can’t set anything outside before June 1.”
When springtime comes, Teresa heads out to the greenhouse daily. She sows seeds and thins seedlings, preparing for the months when she will plant hundreds of petunias, geraniums and other plants in her expansive garden. Listening to an audio book or a podcast, Teresa says the entire day will go by before she knows it. “Summer is my very favorite season and I enjoy getting ready for it,” she explains.
By June, the greenhouse needs a bath so Teresa commits to powerwashing the interior and exterior once a year. The windows sparkle and everything feels fresh and clean afterwards. So now, Teresa is ready to enjoy her summer with her three young grandchildren who live nearby. Together, they play in the gardens, hike in the nearby mountains and enjoy the life they’ve been given.
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