Gardening With An Old House

I like growing plants. And I like neat old houses. But most of all, I like growing plants in a neat old house.

I promised to occasionally reveal what I’m doing gardening-wise around our own home, and I thought you might like to see the home that’s the base of my gardening efforts. Of course, this time of year it’s all about growing plants indoors.

DSCF0810Our home was built in 1895. It’s a great place. Not everyone would enjoy living in a structure that’s over 120 years old. Almost everyone likes to view old houses, and it’s ok to feel they’re nice places to visit, even if you wouldn’t want to live there. But we love it.

Every home has its unique plant-growing circumstances, and we all tailor our plant care to what works in our own place. Old houses have a few oddities of their own. Luckily, the Queen Anne Victorian style embraced large windows, which helps for indoor growing. Our house was termed “distinctly modern” by the local newspaper of the day, because the interior was light and airy, with ample windows and lightly-toned woodwork that was a departure from the earlier dark, heavy, dimly-lit interiors with deep, dark wood finishes.

The interior of our home appears almost exactly as it did in 1895. It’s never been remodeled or reconstructed in any way that required renovating or retrofitting to return it to its original appearance. It looks the way it did when it was built.

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Old houses can be a bit drafty, which requires caution for some plants. I can see why certain types were very popular with the Victorians, such as Boston fern, palms and Christmas cacti. They can tolerate coolness, as nighttime temperatures seem to naturally drop in older homes. But that’s healthy for us humans too.

Special attention is needed for plants like African violets. They enjoy tropical temperatures like their native homeland, and can resent dipping much below 60 or 62 degrees. Because it’s usually cooler next to old windows, I move our violets inward on winter evenings.

Wide window sills make natural plant-growth ledges, and ours are ideal for holding pots that are about 4 inches diameter, which is a good pot size for geraniums and many plants. Plant stands or coffee tables located near windows hold larger diameter pots.

Yes, I like our old house, and I couldn’t be happier gardening in and around it. If you like, maybe I can occasionally feature a room or two, and give a glimpse of the structure and some of what’s growing inside. Until next time, “Happy Growing!” from our old house to yours.

The staircase and stained glass windows are highlights in the entry way of Don and Mary Kinzler's historic home in south Fargo. David Samson / The Forum
The staircase and stained glass windows are highlights in the entry way of Don and Mary Kinzler’s historic home in south Fargo.
David Samson / The Forum