Shelley and I moved into our house in 1997. Before that we’d lived in one bedroom flats for 7 years, before that, before we’d met, I lived in shares houses and flats with friends. And, as my mother did when we moved from our Woolwich council flat to Tokoroa (NZ) in 1967 and she had land to grow on for the first time in her life, I saw the garden that was part of this house as a precious thing. A place to create. The little 40′ south London garden.
The garden had been loved before us, which helped, but being a good kiwi girl I wanted it to be useful as well as ornamental, and set about making it into a mini orchard. I planted apples and a plum. Over time the pears were added, as was the cherry, the hazelnut, the grapevine, the kiwifruit, (potted) orange, lemon and olives trees – and the passionfruit that was planted for their lovely flowers and ended up (edibly) fruiting. I’ve grown lettuce and potatoes and (very mini) carrots, herbs and plenty of things that didn’t work, never really took, and loads of flowers alongside the big old climbing roses that must be 50 or more years old.
And all of this has been cared for, pruned, watered, cut, staked, planned, thought out, planted out, from a little shed at the back of the garden. A shed the previous owners had put in, which certainly wasn’t new when we bought the house, and which still had a few sacks of old building rubbish in it.
This morning, Shelley and I layered-up against the snow, went out and cleared the shed. We tied up all those ‘useful’ bits of wood and piping and whatever that I never did get around to using. We bagged up dozens of rubbish bags of old tins and jars and broken pots. we moved the (still going to be useful) bits of broken china that we might one day make another mosaic with. We cleared the shed. We threw out a lot of old tat we’d not got around to throwing out before. We kept some things that yes, are a bit tatty, but we can’t bear to part with.
The new shed arrives on Wednesday, along with the new fence posts and panels last month’s gales took down – and some useful men to make it all lovely.
And it’s great, the old shed probably wouldn’t last another winter, it certainly won’t take much to dismantle it. But … it was my first shed. The first place I planned a garden from. The place I had to store my first garden tools. It’s where I have dried off bulbs and replanted them year after year (the ones that go in pots, yes, I do know to leave the others in the ground!) It’s where I’ve been happy to run when caught out in a sudden shower and too dirty to run into the kitchen. It’s where I realised why my dad was so happy to be in his garage, pottering about – and supping his home brew.
I’m happy we’re getting a new shed (not so happy about what blokes in big boots will do to the poor frozen grass, but there you go …), and I’m a little sad too.
Thank you old shed.


(bit prettier in summer. assuming we ever get one of those again …)