Anybody who has read the wonderful ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ by Stella Gibbons will know that there is something funny in the woodshed. But if you could see my tool shed or sheds you would probably agree that there is something very sinister lurking in at least one of them.
I would love a beautiful shed. Flighty has a picture of one on a recent post, on his blog: Flighty’s Plot. This comes complete with festive Christmas tree. The door is ajar but inside you know everything is in perfect order; nothing funny lurking in there.
Fans of Gardener’s World go weak at the knees at the sight of Monty Don in his corduroys striding purposefully down the path with his wheelbarrow, pausing to throw a ball for the dog, then stopping to speak winsomely to the camera. Well, I go weak at the knees at the sight of his tool shed. I love all his tools, and he has so many, gleaming and each hanging in its own special place. The potting area is beautifully organised with lovely compost and clean pots. And all that space, enough for a camera crew. I think I would add a nice comfy chair and a Pelargonium on the window sill, and I really need a clean table where I could sort out my seeds and put them into nice labelled packages or do a bit of twin-scaling. A bookcase would be good and a blackboard on the wall where I could keep note of seeds sown or jobs to be done.
I actually have three sheds. One is a disused garage, a previous owner decided to build a new garage nearer to the house. When he moved from here he obviously became overcome with weariness at the idea of clearing it out so he didn’t bother. I can understand why really. Maybe it isn’t just his stuff. This house is 500 years old. Maybe all the previous owners left their junk around over the centuries and when the garage was built there was a ready-made home for it all. We have managed to fit our lawn mower in here and the broken strimmer but not much else. I try to avoid going in there. It’s too depressing. So I can’t make my Monty Don shed in here.
And what about my other two sheds? They are actually two old stables. I have several unkind friends who say that they are a disgrace to the garden and should be pulled down. I say they are charmingly rustic and haven’t they heard of shabby chic? The friends say ‘Well can’t you at least paint them?’ And I reply that if I paint them they will no longer be charmingly rustic.
Now we come to the embarrassing part. One shed is entirely filled with plant pots. A great towering monument to my extravagance. I started off washing them and arranging them neatly, all graded in size. But gradually things got out of hand. It’s not just my extravagance though. People started bringing me their unwanted pots too. My shed seemed to become the depot for unwanted pots for everyone who knows me. Presumably word has got round and people think that I have a thing about pots. It has got totally out of hand. My bamboo canes are in the far corner of this shed and in order to get at them I need a hard hat and protective clothing in order to scale the plant pot mountain.
I think there must be some unsavoury sort of plasticy sex going on in the darkness of this shed because even when nobody brings any pots for a while the heap just carries on growing. They are reproducing. As for what is happening in the slimy, murky underworld of the floor under all this, I dread to think. Probably new life forms are developing to join ancient microbes and Hieronymus Bosch type Beasties.
The third shed is full too. It is full of cardboard. I collect cardboard I have masses of it. When friends aren’t bringing me unwanted plant pots, they bring me cardboard. And now I have enough to fill a shed. This isn’t quite as crazy as it sounds. I’m going to make my work -intensive veggie patch into a potager with raised beds. I went to a talk by Alys Fowler a while ago and she explained the no-dig sort of permaculture which involves raised beds made up of a lasagne of cardboard, grass cuttings, compost and manure. You don’t even need to dig the weeds out first; you just put the cardboard down and start layering. So saving cardboard isn’t as eccentric as The Pianist seems to think. What does he know about permaculture?
I feel embarrassed now at having revealed the shameful secrets of the tool sheds in all their squalor. I hope people won’t stop reading my blog in disgust and go away never to return. I am disgusted with myself and I’m going straight out there to clean and arrange those pots. I will take some carloads to the dump and just keep a normal number of pots, all nice and clean and graded according to size. Friends bearing pots will be dealt with firmly in future. I will get to grips with any creatures of the dark lurking in there and all will be light. Well it would be if there was a window. I’m going to clean my tools and make a rack for them. I’m going to make a nice potting area. I’m going to have a special place for labels and a nicely sharpened pencil. String, gardening gloves- there will be a home for everything. Unfortunately there is no room for a chair or camera crew but you can’t have everything.
I just hope I don’t release the tool shed Beastie so he can slither out and take up residence in the garden and sneer at me from the boles of trees every time I go past.
For my Tool Shed Beastie many thanks to dear Betty Booth who paints the wonderful backdrops for popupphotoparlour.com/.