Garden Photo of the Day

Escape Winter With a Greenhouse

It's summer inside, no matter what happens outside

Today we’re visiting Kris and Bob Sislow’s indoor tropical paradise in Riverwoods, Illinois.

We submitted pictures of our summer gardens a few years ago and decided now to send pictures of our winter garden, which is in an attached heated greenhouse. Living in Zone 5 in the northern suburbs of Chicago, we move in all the potted lantana trees, alocasia, begonias, succulents, and other various plants. We have a potted jacaranda, red powder puff tree, large and small flowered tibouchina urvilleana, bougainvillea, and others. It’s a joy to look out from our family room and see blooming Christmas cactus, camelias, clivias, and more. The cool greenhouse climate keeps the plants blooming for a bit longer. We love gardening and are always on the lookout for unusual plants or seeds, whether they are challenging to grow in this zone or not. We’ll be planting some of our flower and vegetable seeds soon, a sure welcome sign of the coming spring.

A jungle of greenery in the greenhouse. I think everyone living in a cold climate would love to have a space like this!

Hanging baskets of Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera sp.) are loaded up with blooms in a photo that also includes a diverse group of plants. Cool conditions help make the flowers of these and other flowering plants last much longer than usual.

A camellia, possibly the variety ‘Yuletide’ (Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’, Zones 7–10). Camellias are a great choice for a cool, northern greenhouse. They bloom during the winter, when you need color the most, and since more of them are hardy to Zone 7 or 8, a minimally heated, or even unheated, greenhouse is sufficient to keep them happy and flowering in even the coldest climates.

Here’s a wide view of the greenhouse, which is loaded up with flowers.

Clear shelving allows for the maximum number of plants to be packed into the space.

Red powder puff tree (Calliandra haematocephala, Zones 9–11) in flower.

One last view of the greenhouse. If you are sick of the snow, maybe you need one of these!


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View Comments


  1. mainer59 02/25/2019

    This is fabulous! How large is your greenhouse? Is it attached to your house? Through which room? Do you have a view of what it looks like from outside? Was it built from a kit or just added on like another room would be? Do you clear it out in the summer?

    1. Musette1 02/25/2019

      All. The. Questions. I was going to ask ALL THE QUESTIONS!, too! I'm in IL as well and keep trying to convince DH that a small greenhouse/sunroom attached to the house would be a beautiful thing. Yours is GORGEOUS! Would love to see how it looks from outside.

    2. KrisSis 02/25/2019

      The greenhouse (16'x20') wasn't a kit and is attached. It has a sliding glass door to our family room. The majority of plants take a summer vacation outside and come back in looking better than ever. There are some pictures of our greenhouse from an earlier post on Fine Gardening Photo of the day on 9/7/12 if you want to take a peek. Thanks for the comments.

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 02/25/2019

    Good grief! How very lovely!

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 02/25/2019

    Your winter indoor garden I s amazing...the plants aren't just surviving, they are thriving. So much lushness and abundant color this time of year is almost intoxication. No Seasonal Affective Disorder in your household!

  4. LauraJaneS 02/25/2019

    Colour me jealous! Well done. What a treat for you ;)

  5. Chris_N 02/25/2019

    A great way to start a Monday morning. Thanks for sharing!

  6. btucker9675 02/25/2019

    I'm "green" with envy of your beautiful, blooming greenhouse!

  7. paiya 02/25/2019

    Kris and Bob, just looking at your photos cheers me up- the varied colors and textures look like a rich tapestry. Like you, we bring in “tropical” plants into our zone 7a family room that has large windows- it does make the winter more enjoyable.

  8. erla 02/25/2019

    Oh my goodness, what a lot of work! How do you keep them all watered? Thankfully my Yuletide Camellia is blooming outside here in Oregon. Kudos to you for such a love of plants and flowers that you can enjoy their beauty all year.

  9. bsislow 02/27/2019

    Congratulations on the years of hard work and culmination of your amazing collection of plants Mom & Dad! If only the folks on here could see your space in person!

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