One of the earliest illustrations of a potting shed structure appeared late in the 1600’s in a German volume on farming and gardening by W. H. von Hohberg. Hohberg’s shed was a cozy affair with windows, a pair of worktables, and all the necessary items needed to enjoy the garden.
Similar garden work-sheds existed earlier, but they weren’t widely used until the nineteenth century when the potting shed took root and became most popular. Today, a potting shed has become a customary part of any functioning garden.
Although I too created a potting shed, I have now come to call mine a “garden studio”. Converted from a former one-car garage, this has been my newest gardening project. It features a Dutch door, floor to ceiling shelves, and a center island where I can arrange flowers and replant annuals from the nursery. The studio’s once bare cement floor was painted in a black and white checkerboard pattern to create interest and a larger feel to the studio. More windows were installed to invite more light. A plain garage door was soon replaced with a charming carriage door for architectural interest. I once visited an avid gardener in Weston who had a fabulous garden area just behind her husbands two-car garage. She created walls with lattice and trained a wisteria to grow over this space. A cedar cabin was used for storing items from the weather. Old mossy pots were scattered about and stored throughout the space creating a welcoming and inviting workspace.
At the Westport Historical Society Hidden Tour, I was asked hundreds of questions about my garden studio. Only to find out that my studio was the hit of the garden tour. Here something old becomes something new. My grandmother’s old kitchen cabinet that I rescued from the trash serves as an excellent storage area for my books and fertilizers. Visitors were able to enter and experience a working potting shed and touch and feel the items that create this sense of space.
Of course no potting shed would be complete with out a collection of garden tools. Like a favored copper skillet in your kitchen, tools also benefit from regular cleaning. Prior to pulling off your garden gloves and calling it a day, a quick once over with a stiff bristle brush will clean shovels, spades, forks and hoes. If wet from rain be sure to dry metal tool surfaces before storing. Gardeners, like all artists will find themselves acquiring more and more tools for the craft. If gardening is your passion, consider buying only the best- with care, your tools can outlast you. Once your tools are clean, hang them up off the floor on wooden peg racks or hooks, or copy my creative idea and hang them with plant labels on old shutters.
What a playhouse or a tree fort is to a child, a potting shed is to a gardener. A garden studio is a home away from home with the convenience of being in your back yard. Here I can get lost for the day creating and planning for my garden. I retreat to my studio when to need to leave the cell phone behind, forsake the doorbell, and forego my nursery visits and errands.
In the end, any potting shed is a simple structure, nothing more than wood, brick, and stone. However, for many of us, our potting shed reminds us of the pleasures of home and people who inspired us to learn and grow. Its romantic nature enriches our lives as time passes. Here one finds peace, beauty, and a sense of purpose. With this comes discovery and knowledge to grow and experience nature in your garden from the beginning to the end and back again.
Any potting shed will enrich your life while creating a sense of space in your garden. Enjoy, create and give back to nature. Your potting shed will embrace you and all who enter.
And there you have it.