Thinking about sheds – first published 30 May 2014

Summer 2014 was fast approaching and our garden shed was almost dead. The roof never really got over the gales and the wood was beginning to rot despite an annual coat of paint. To be honest it was more Commando’s shed than mine, filled with lawn mowers and other manly things and, as it was hidden away at the end of the garden behind the honeysuckle arch, I didn’t think about it too much. When I did, I resented the veg growing space it took up and wished it could be somewhere else.

30 May 2014

The time has come to say goodbye to our slowly rotting garden shed. Well, as soon as Commando has found a replacement. This poses a few mild disagreements in our house mostly about paint. You see I have a picture in my mind of a beach hut coloured shed, something in pale blue. Commando says blue is no colour for a garden shed and wants boring old brown like we’ve always had. I blame it all on the Friendly Gardeners Facebook group. You see I saw a photo of a lovely blue shed on there and now I want one.

Anyhow, once we’d stopped arguing over the colour and Commando had almost come around to my way of thinking (well I hope so because it’s going to be blue anyway) we started thinking about where to put it. Our garden is wedge shaped going down to a point at the very end. The rectangular shed has a lot of wasted space behind it and it limits the size of shed we can buy too. On Monday there was a lot of walking around the garden humming and haing. Tape measures came out and we have made a decision.

Let me give you a bit of background to explain things. The house we live in was my childhood home and, when we moved in, there wasn’t much money and a lot to be done to make the place safe to live in. The garden was at the bottom of the spending list so we left the expensive bits like paving and walls as they were. Once upon a time one side of the garden had a greenhouse and a proper shed with a brick base and wooden top half. Sadly the shed and the top of the greenhouse had rotted away long before we came to live here but we were left with the walls of the bottom of the green house and the concrete base of the shed. These days the greenhouse has become a raised garden and the shed base a patio of sorts.

So the obvious place for the new shed is the patio, where the original shed used to be. The pointed end of the garden when the old shed is now was once an aviary so much of it has a concrete base, albeit rather shabby now. It could become a patio but I’m thinking raised beds for vegetables and maybe a fruit tree. The finer details have yet to be decided and it isn’t going to happen overnight but I’m quite excited. The only sad thing will be saying goodbye to the pots outside the window but I’m sure I’ll find a place for them somewhere.

So, all week I’ve had sheds on the brain. It’s odd because I’ve never really given them a second thought before but, since Commando said we needed a new one and I saw the lovely blue shed photo on Friendly Gardeners, I can’t stop thinking about them. Sheds are the hidden secret in almost every garden. They come in all shapes and sizes but you don’t really notice them tucked away in dark corners or behind fences. Lately though I’ve found myself peeking into the gardens I pass looking for them. At this rate I may get arrested as a potential burglar.

Even on my walks to and from work I see an amazing variety of different sheds secreted in the gardens I pass, each a little glimpse into the owner’s soul. Crumbling wrecks with broken glass and rotten boards, neat, precise and well cared for all sharp corners and fresh paint, swathed in rambling plants, crooked, quirky, strange, functional, you name it they are there when you look for them. Of course there were ordinary wooden sheds much like ours peeping over the tops of fences or hiding behind walls. The river’s edge on either side of the bridge is a hotchpotch of different types, shapes and sizes, one was even an arch of gleaming corrugated iron like the old air raid shelters.

Occasionally other things drew my eyes away from my shed spotting. On Tuesday a plane coming in to land had me looking skywards on a rare dry morning and, on the wet walk home, some beautiful pink rhododendrons on top of a garden wall distracted me.

Wednesday was so wet I caught the bus so there was no shed spotting at all but I did see some yellow cinquefoil in the desolate park. Thursday was damp but not raining and I thought I might see some sheds in the gardens along Monks Path. The thick covering of wisteria leaves meant I couldn’t see into any gardens though so I made do with admiring the wild geraniums instead.

I did see two very unusual sheds though. One garden, near the river has not one, but two. One is just an ordinary wooden affair but the other is an old red telephone box. Now that is a shed I’d like to see in my garden. Then there was the shed on a trailer. I’ve spotted this one before, when it was actually in the garden. It’s like a miniature gypsy caravan and I have no idea what it was doing on a trailer. That’s another shed I could live with.

I suppose the reason I’ve had sheds on the brain is all the talking we’ve done about them. Obviously there were the ‘discussions’ about colour. Then there was the problem of how to rearrange the garden and where to put it. We decided on the patio in the end but that left what to do with the end of the garden. This in turn got me thinking about other things in the garden I wanted to change. It was like a snowball effect.

One thing I knew I needed to do something about was the New Zealand flax. It may look lovely with long strappy leaves and the occasional spike of red flowers but wasn’t looking very healthy and it had begun to take over the garden. There is only so much chopping back you can do after all and those leaves are tough to cut. Last week CJ worked hard to chop it down for me and Commando dug out the roots while I was on my Sunday walk. The small conifers went too, mostly because they’d been half killed by the flax. It did leave a big gap in the garden but I had my eye on a fruit tree to fill it.

Commando did actually go looking for a shed for real over the weekend but he didn’t find any, at least not any that would fit the bill. In the end he ordered one on line which means a three week wait. Still it gives us time to get prepared. For a start all the pots had to be moved. As a temporary measure I’ve lined them all up in front of the decking until I find a permanent home for them. They actually look quite nice there.

Then we went to the garden centre to look for fruit trees. A nice eating apple was favourite, everyone likes apples don’t they? After a lot of looking around at no less than two different garden centres what we actually came home with was a fig tree. The leaves were such a wonderful shape and I quite like the idea of home grown figs. In fact, the one we chose gave us a head start because it already has one solitary fig on it. There was also a little blueberry bush because I couldn’t resist.

The old shed still needs to be demolished and we have to work out what to do with the end of the garden and where the pots are going to live permanently. Right now it feels like the garden is in a state of flux and I’m hoping the fig tree will grow fast because it’s all looking rather bare. Oh well, I guess that’s the price you pay for progress. Now if I can just get the shed song out of my head…

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Writer, walker, coffee drinker, chocolate eater, lover of nature, history and the little things that make me smile

2 thoughts on “Thinking about sheds – first published 30 May 2014”

  1. Our home is a family hand-me-down too, but from my husband’s parents. So, it’s been his home on-and-off since 1957. It’s nice having that history, although I somehow doubt his late mother would have appreciated me turning the top lawn into a chicken coop! With the gradual takeover that I’ve pulled off, the Age of Elegance has retreated into distant memory.

    1. I sometimes imagine my mother looking down nd complaining about what I’ve done to her garden. I’m not sure she’d be happy.

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