Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Feature, Part II: Cold Frame

"But round the end of the cucumber frame, whom should he meet but Mr. McGregor!
-Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Peter Rabbit
In Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit, the unfortunate title character has a harrowing experience at the end of a cucumber frame.  Said cucumber frame is depicted in Potter's accompanying watercolor illustration (above) as a wooden box with a glass lid.  This contraption was doubtlessly used as a cold frame in which warm-season vegetables (including cucumbers) were produced in a cool, short-summered climate.

In the Carolina Children's Garden, Mr. McGregor has his very own garden--complete with a white picket fence, two raised vegetable gardens, a freshly-painted tool shed, and a border of lovely daffodils.  Now, Mr. McGregor also has...wait for it...his very own cold frame!

This stunning Potteresque cold frame was designed and constructed by the multi-talented Hattie and Donald Bruce Monson.  The frame is made of treated pine lumber (which, Hattie notes, no longer contains arsenic--a chemical that, in the past, made treated lumber unsuitable for the construction of vegetable beds) with a Plexiglas roof.  Hinges, handles, and hook-and-eye latches make the frame easy to open and close.

Constructing the frame was a learning process for the Monsons--Hattie reported that this was the first "permanent" cold frame they had constructed, having used only temporary cold frames made of plastic stretched over hoops to protect young seedlings in the past.  The frame had to be made to fit into an existing wooden square in Mr. McGregor's Garden--the remnants of the Garden's original cold frame, long since vanished.

While Hattie admitted that the cold frame "did look nice in the garage," the best part of the process was seeing the frame installed in its intended destination beside Mr. McGregor's toolshed.  The installation process required the help of several friends, including Master Gardener Kathy Murray and USC student Christine Burkes (pictured below).

Keep your eye on Mr. McGregor's Garden, as more changes are in store...the frame will soon be painted, and, when the weather begins to cool this fall, expect to see plants migrating magically into the frame!

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