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Disaster Strikes New Greenhouse

On Friday night Storm Hannah arrived here in Wales after battering Ireland. I was babysitting my Grandson who slept blissfully through the winds and things crashing and banging around outside. As I drove home at midnight the car was shaking in the wind gusts and I came up our track with a feeling of dread. How would the new greenhouse cope?

greenhouse storm damage f

The new greenhouse collapsed back by the wind. Sheets of glass blown a surprising distance.

In the car’s headlights the greenhouse was standing proud, hardly moving despite the force of the wind that buffeted me as I hurried inside. I read for a while as the wind shouted down the chimney and rattled the cat-flap, scaring the cats who took refuge from the invisible monster cat in the bedroom.

Two O’Clock and All is Well

At 2 am I headed to bed after one last check, shining a torch from the bedroom window. The greenhouse was still standing steady. Feeling all would be well, I dropped off to sleep.

Six O’Clock and Not Well

6 am and I awoke. The wind was still howling with gusts rattling raindrops against the windows. Being as I was up, I shone the light out and the greenhouse was gone. It felt more like a nightmare than reality. After all, it was standing rock steady just a few hours earlier. So, I made drink and then re-checked. It was truly gone.

Post Mortem

On Sunday the weather having improved, I took a good look and tried to work out what had happened.

Preparation for the Storm

On Friday, knowing the storm was coming, I’d fitted some extra ‘L’ shaped brackets to hold the base down. It comes with 6 fixing points and I added a further five – each double screwed down and bolted to the frame. I’d also double checked the nuts were tight on the joining bolts and added an extra pair of W clips to most of the panes of glass.

Well the base hadn’t lifted, all the brackets and screws were still firmly down. What I think had happened was that the wind had gusted strongly at the face of the long side of the house and simply pushed it beyond the limit.

Wind Gusts

The winds were measured gusting to over 80 mph near to us on the Llyn peninsular. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were higher here with us being 600 feet up an exposed hillside. The wind was veering as well as gusting, if it had been hitting the house before the greenhouse we’d have been OK but it hit directly on the long face.

Disheartening

It’s so disheartening though, I was so pleased with it and sure it would resist the worst the Welsh winds could throw at it. With most greenhouses the frame is fairly sloppy until the glass goes in but this one was rock solid. I don’t know what gauge of aluminium they use but it was not lightweight.

I won’t try putting another up in the same place, it’s just too exposed a spot for a greenhouse. It may just be me but I definitely think we’re having more and more severe storms. If, as I think it may be, this is the start of climate change then we’re all going to be having similar problems in the future.

greenhouse storm damage

You can see how the thick side pieces have been bent out of shape by the force of the wind.

You can see in this side view how the greenhouse has been pushed over – surprising how much glass has survived.

greenhouse storm damage

Rear of greenhouse – what a mess 🙁

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
20 comments on “Disaster Strikes New Greenhouse
  1. Carol says:

    So sorry to hear that the greenhouse didn’t cope with Hannah! The wind is a nightmare.

  2. Jules says:

    So sorry to read about your greenhouse. Here in the Highlands I’ve seen several just collapse during strong winds at the allotment. I have one at home that is a lean to with toughened glass and glazing bars and thus far it’s survived all the weather that’s been chucked at it. We often get very strong winds, we’re only a hundred yards from the sea but I often come downstairs in trepidation after a night of gale force winds

  3. William Jones says:

    A wind of 80mph will produce a pressure of 16 lb per sq ft. So making some rough assumptions about the size of the greenhouse it was probably subjected to a force of over 900lbs before it failed!! Ironically if one of the panes had blown out it may have destroyed the glass but by allowing the wind through rather than resisting it it may have saved the frame.

  4. Maureen Stones says:

    What rotten luck… So sorry xx

  5. Rowland Wells says:

    This is so unbelievable; one minute it’s almost finished, the next thing it’s laying in a crumpled heap of bent metal and broken glass.

    What does one say at time like this after putting so much work into getting it ready to use I’m sure we all feel sorry for what’s happened John

    The other thing is there any thing you can salvage out this tangle mess? It’s so disheartening when this sort of thing happens. Will you be able to replace the greenhouse parts that are beyond repair?

    May I take the opportunity to wish you all the luck to replace or repair your greenhouse very soon.

    • John Harrison says:

      Thanks, Rowland. There are that many damaged bits I don’t think they can do other than to replace the whole thing. Although some parts are OK, they’re generally all in the box and they can’t split them out.

      Awaiting an insurance assessor now – apparently Churchill don’t trust my photos.

  6. Gillian Osborne says:

    Hannah certainly DID cause a bit of damage…..yet here in Northumberland we had barely a breeze!
    Would the company you got the greenhouse from not replace it? If not, hopefully the insurance company will. Agree about the storms getting stronger these days too! I’m just glad my allotment has a high hedge to shelter it but even so Storm Gareth last month still managed to rip a huge hole in my shed roof.

  7. steve evans says:

    Sorry for your loss at least nobody was hurt.

    I have a “Hercules” greenhouse. It is much stronger than the standard ones. It has withstood several 80+ mph storms quite well on the coast in South Wales

  8. LYNN BLADE says:

    Hi John, very sorry to hear about your greenhouse…. all that hard work.
    We are just about to erect a greenhouse and feel we have chosen our best site in a very large garden. However in doing so we have had to fell some very large trees, which leaves us somewhat exposed and possibility open to the elements. We live in Jersey and like everywhere else here, we are not far from the coast! We intend to secure the frame to the ground, but would be interested to know if following your dreadful experience you have any advice for us? With thanks, Lynn.

    • John Harrison says:

      Hi Lynn – well I thought I’d got it safe with extra ground fixings and extra glazing clips. All the nuts were tight too. 🙁

      Even bushes provide some shelter from wind – but they take time to grow. A windbreak fence, open palisade style, will serve to slow down the wind. But they do block some light.

  9. Stephen Sutton says:

    Hi John. Just a thought for the future. Your location looks very exposed. Could you create a screen like a strong fence or the dreaded Leylandii on the prevailing wind side to shelter your next greenhouse? Mine is sheltered in a walled garden so I am lucky storms don’t bother the greenhouse. It also helps with the sun overheating. Good luck with the next one!

  10. Reg says:

    Hello John
    Just a quick comment on wind and greenhouses.
    I have an allotment in Porthleven Cornwall and we get some strong winds.
    When I built my greenhouse (wooden) and shed, I started with banging fence spikes into the ground on all corners and inserted 2″x2″ posts.The framing of the greenhouse and shed were then attached to those. There is room for slight movement but the spikes anchor the buildings into the ground.
    I have been at the allotment 8 years now and luckily, no problems.
    A neighbour was having a shed installed by a professional and I told him about my spikes and posts and he said that he was going to pinch my idea because he thought it was a good one.
    Good luck with your next one
    Reg

  11. Richard Jackson says:

    Dearie me John – how unlucky can you get. I’m in Tasmania and can agree that the climate is indeed changing – even here – and for the worse. I’ve had a close look at your greenhouse when erected and can see that the manufacturer has installed as many braces in the side walls as possible (these are the walls that resist the racking forces by the wind on the long side) however they are at a rather oblique angle. (the max. angle by engineering principles is 60 degrees to the horizontal and yours look rather more than this) If however the braces were installed in a zig zag fashion (hope that makes sense) would solve this problem. The best solution is to line the end walls with plywood if you can accept the loss of light.
    Interesting that the glass appeared to withstand the onslaught – it was the bracing that let it down.
    Good luck with Greenhouse Mark 2.

  12. Anna Scamans says:

    Oh John, I’m so sorry! All that work you put in and now all the mess to clean up. What rotten luck. Hope you find a solution soon.

  13. peter says:

    we frequently see greehouses(plastic) and poly tunnels cheap green reinforced ones blown away on our allotment. normal cause is poor fixing to the ground to spikes or to paving slabs the frames seem to flex a gazing sheet pops out then the wind trys to fly the remaining structure like a kite.if the base is secured the bottom frame and any odd bits stay put. i made a concrete raft for mine stayed put for 8 years so far. But this is in the soft south. You have my sympathy
    What a rotten thing to happen.

  14. David says:

    You seem to have a very open site, would planting windbreak hedges be possible?

    • John Harrison says:

      We’ve got windbreaks growing around the field – some faster than others – but not to the seaward side. Possibly could do a fence to that side but at the cost of blocking the evening sunshine.
      Thanks for the thought, though.

  15. Ruth says:

    That sad story reminds me about the time my father, a market gardener, having put up his first polytunnel in the 60is and two days later the whole thing went up into the air with a ferocious March storm. On that day I said to myself that I will never earn a living growing things for sale. I became a teacher and gardening is a hobby.

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