A little bit more about me........
Growing up in a leafy pocket of Surrey I was lucky enough to acquire some gardening knowledge largely by osmosis. My parents were keen gardeners and had bought a two acre turnip field on which to build a house and which they gamely set about landscaping over the next 40 years. The local area was awash with houses and gardens designed by the Lutyens, Jekyll partnership so there was inspiration aplenty. With equal good luck, our next door neighbour was the reknowned gardening journalist and author Roy Hay who had been instrumental in the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign in the second world war. His garden was both fascinating and magical to me and I particularly loved the dank, mossy smell of the Victorian greenhouses with their decorative floor vents and sunken reservoirs. Roy opened his garden for charity several times a year and we were invariably roped in to help. As a small child I was given the great privilege of supervising the penny mile (old pennies were much larger) which ran along a dwarf wall, the length of the garden.
My parents garden developed in the popular style of the 1960’s and 70’s with large island beds inhabited by conifers and heathers. There was a generously sized orchard, two greenhouses and an enviable vegetable garden. Having lived through the war and with rationing continuing into the 1950’s, it was unthinkable at that time to design a purely decorative garden with no provision for edibles. My grandparents had kept geese and hens, like many others, and the underground bomb shelter was used for storing fruit. This preoccupation with having a larder in the garden has passed on through the generations to my own daughter whose small garden is packed with herbs, vegetables and fruit. As an errant teenager, my mother desperately hoped that I would consider training in horticulture at the nearby RHS Wisley Gardens which we all loved. It would have been a good career move but in those days, when your parents suggested something you immediately chose the opposing route and I was no exception so I came to gardening later on when I bought my first house. That first garden was a godforsaken plot, every inch of which was covered in ground elder and in which many hundreds of milk bottles had been buried along with more bed springs than seemed feasible and a decapitated cat! Over several years I transformed it into a rather lovely place and the seed was sown! Since then I have had two further gardens culminating in our present plot which Mr P and I lovingly share the upkeep of. At the outset we rather threw ourselves at it and for two years proudly opened the garden for the NGS (National Gardens Scheme) until the upkeep of two businesses became more of a priority and the borders became rather less than perfect. Post lockdown, like many gardens all over the world, it is now looking supremely gorgeous again and so it has become time for the garden and I to tentatively take the first steps into the next phase.
So…….the namesake of this blog is (aside from me) my potting shed. Oh glorious potting shed – how I love thee! Now please don’t imagine anything grand – a Victorian brick-built affair lined with countless rows of hand-made terracotta pots, this is not. It is a shed, just an ordinary ship-lap shed of very common design. Cheap, cheerful and does the business! The only concessions we made to luxury were a stable door and an extra deep potting bench. Otherwise, it’s completely standard. The shed is packed to the gunnels with gardening ephemera but the engine house of the garden, it most definitely is! I painted it a deep grey when it arrived and that is what it has stayed. However disdainfully fashion may look upon grey, there is no disputing that dark grey, like black looks great with green. In fact, having grown up in the South, with its black clapboard barns, I think that’s the way it will go when next it needs painting. This joyous part of the garden has transformed the efficiency of all gardening activities for me. I set off purposefully in the morning, coffee in hand, knowing that once I reach the potting shed the day’s tasks will reveal themselves and the gardening day will begin.