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I’m a bit of a sucker for garden visiting – you know, when you get the chance to nose around someone else’s garden under the guise of Supporting the National Gardens Scheme. Some are real gems – others less so, but there’s usually something you can find to get enthusiastic about.

So while I was on holiday recently in the Isle of Wight I dragged my poor family off again to see someone’s back garden (they’ve even stopped protesting now, having opted for resigned tolerance instead). The one that was open while we were there was Pitt House, near Bembridge, promisingly advertised as being four acres with statues, ponds and a waterfall, plus sea views.

Well – it was nice enough, and the waterfall was lovely as were the sea views, but I couldn’t help thinking they could have achieved a bit more with all that space (four acres – and they have two gardeners, too, so no excuses). There was, however, one true gem in amongst the ordinariness: a Victorian greenhouse, entirely original (even had those cast-iron bracket thingies to raise the vents) and utterly gorgeous.

Oooh I want one…

…and look at these grapes. They were cutting bunches for people to taste – absolutely yum.

Best not to eat this one – poisonous. But enormous.

I thought this was a natty idea – invented by the Victorians, of course. It was just a shallow pool of water sunk into the floor of the greenhouse, under a bench. It evaporates over a hot day, keeping humidity levels high without any need for spraying floors or doing anything, really, except topping it up from time to time. It was a bit green and scummy – but you could probably improve things by… oh… planting a tropical waterlily in there or something…

Isn’t this sweet? I discovered it tucked away in a corner under the benches. No idea what it was doing there.

And this was the pièce de resistance: backed on to that sumptuous main greenhouse was a sunken one. Just look at those tiles. It was entirely wasted on a load of ropey old fuchsias, but it got my imagination firing on all cylinders. Melons… pineapples… mmm……