Budget Friendly Greenhouse Design

Lack of space, budget, and materials wasn't going to stop Axton Burton from building a greenhouse in which to overwinter his prized, tropical houseplants. With his rented studio apartment clearly not an ideal location for such a structure and the majority of residential greenhouses too short to accommodate his ice cream banana tree (Musa acuminata × balbisiana 'Blue Java') anyway, he persuaded his parents to donate a spot on their rural property and together with his dad designed a greenhouse with suitable dimensions that could be constructed from (mostly) recycled materials.

This unique greenhouse is made from recycled glass bottles set within a fir frame. Cucamelons grow on the outside, their wispy tendrils attaching to bamboo skewers pushed between the bottles.

While he initially considered using recycled windows for the walls, Axton realized that trying to get exactly the dimensions he needed could be both time consuming and frustrating, so instead opted to use recycled bottles; 4516 of them to be exact, in all shapes and sizes from nail polish bottles and spice jars to larger canning jars. These are glued into place to fill the frame. "This has been my passion project," said Axton, admitting that the focus helped keep him grounded during months of COVID-induced isolation. He began in January 2020 and had mostly finished the greenhouse by September 1st 2021,  "although I don't know when it will be ever truly finished," he admits. Yet there was still the question of the glass bottles – where to find them? The answer was in his neighborhood. Axton is clearly much loved within the local community and he reached out to them via Facebook groups asking if anyone had any glass bottles to donate while explaining his idea. Intrigued friends, neighbors, strangers, and clients scoured their homes and donated what he needed, investing themselves into the projects' success at the same time. Axton also advertised using the Next Door app at which point "everything exploded!"

Visitors (there are many)  are invited to decorate and sign leftover lids from the donated jars. (Any extra lids were donated to local schools).

These lids are then hung outside – a testament to those who have encouraged and helped Axton in his quest.

Moss gathered from garden is used to pack the spaces between the glass bottles in the walls

As the temperatures dip, Axton has started moving his precious plants into their winter residence, while admitting this is all something of an experiment. He has installed LED lights and a misting system, the latter being run from a rainwater collection system. A fountain, found for free via Craig's List, will add to the humidity his tropical plants need in order to thrive.

A fountain inside the greenhouse provides humidity – as does a misting system

During summer months when the greenhouse isn't needed for his tropicals, Axton has considered using the space for date nights. "It's so romantic with all the lights," he notes, adding that his partner James is a great chef. When Axton isn't tending his prized exotic fruiting plants he is an active transgender healthcare activist and also manages a senior rat rescue business with James. "We provide a rat-tirement home," he quips.

Axton Burton in front of the greenhouse he designed and built

Connect with Axton

Email: axtonstrong@hotmail.com Facebook

Subscribe to Receive Blog Posts

Gardening inspiration delivered right to your inbox from Le Jardinet

Gazing Skywards – a fresh look at trees

  There’s something magical about looking up through a leafy canopy. Dappled light adds a luminous quality to foliage, with such backlighting revealing details and colors which might otherwise go unnoticed. Several trees have wonderful downward facing flowers which are partially hidden by the surrounding leaves yet when viewed from below not only are they…
Read More


There's no doubt about it – change can be messy. Getting from before to after somehow always seems to involve the mid-point of  being distinctively worse; that "Oh no – what have we done?" moment. I've been there many times but it never gets easier. In my last post 'Progress'  I showed you examples of our current…
Read More

Coming soon!

Your favorite blog – Garden Adventures – for thumbs of all colors will be moving here soon! In the meantime click here for the latest posts and archives.
Read More

Welcome to My Garden Adventures


I'm a serious plant-aholic. In other words I'm usually covered in a layer or two of soil, I drive everywhere with a large tarp for impromptu plant purchases and I'm truly passionate about sharing the joys of gardening.

Buy My Books Here!



Container Gardening Course

Enter KCHAPMAN20 to get 20% off

Architecture, interior design, and more ∨

Use the help of top home decorators to select matching bedside tables and a new lamp shade for your own bedroom design.
Collect and share photos of bathroom tile, bathroom vanities, shower curtains and bathroom mirrors to create your perfect home decorating style.

TV Interview