The Potting Shed

The Potting Shed

In search of my mother’s garden, I found my own.
Alice Walker

We’re a little off topic here today. So, if you were looking for a recipe, a witty little piece of angry rant, or anything food related, you’re going to be disappointed.

Instead, I’m talking about the garden and Jane’s new potting shed (teahouse). But first we have to jump back four years ago.

When we finished Turtle Creek, like a great many construction projects, we ran over budget in the building. And while we had the good sense to wall-in the area for the garden, there simply wasn’t enough extra cash lying around to landscape the house and grounds… it was a shoe-sucking mud pit enclosed neatly behind an attractive gated fence.

We eventually got around to hiring a landscape architect to develop plans for the future garden and quickly realized that even with a modest design, the construction costs were going to be astronomical. I decided to take on the project, spending that first year wheel barrowing in load after load of gravel to shore up the garden floor. I outlined several makeshift beds with granite, and excavated a small pond in the center of the space for a water feature…
And that’s pretty much where it stayed for a year. The soil here on top of the mountain is abysmal at best – it is a mixture of chunka rocks, red clay and chirt – and I had resigned myself to the fact that it was going to be several years of  conditioning the soil to make it grow anything except Johnson Grass.

I eventually stumbled on Hay Bale Gardening as a way to utilize the space and condition the soil at the same time. So we christened the next year with our first Hay Garden. You can read all about my experiences with that  process  at Making Hay.

The next year my brother Ed built Jane a potting table, I knocked together a gravel platform to put it on, and as the garden chugged along I realized I had underestimated a couple of things about the garden.
1. There was NO escape from the heat or sun. The garden nestles in a nook on the southern side of the house between the garage and the drive way. The summer sun bakes everything in sight from about 11am to well past 5 pm… which is fine… if you’re a tomato. Jane has severe sensitivity to the sun – so that had to be addressed.
2. The drainage system was non-existent, The four tons of gravel packed into the sticky mud had rendered it impervious and rivers of rainwater were flooding down the driveway.  I’ve already talked about that project HERE
3. While the temporary garden design was functional, it really was just plants lined up around the perimeter. I wanted to give Jane a garden that was peaceful, that was attractive, that she would want to be in. So this year I tore everything up and redesigned the space.

I really should say that the original thought for a potting shed was pretty much what you’d think – reclaimed utility pole posts, gravel flooring, a couple of storage bins and a sloped corrugated tin roof. Things don’t always turn out like you plan….
The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied. They always look forward to doing something better that they have ever done before.
Vita Sackville-West


The Starting Point
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Every step was a calculation of costs – I opted for 4×6 posts so
I could get the look of a chunkier post without the added expense
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The base of the posts were wrapped in native stone, a small planting bed installed at the front right,
and a tool / vine lattice installed in the rear
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Template for the trellis brackets (get it… Turtle Creek Cottage?)
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The brackets installed
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The start of the rafter system. I’ve used the peeled landscape timbers for the rafters.
I really wanted something rustic and very natural in feel
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Detail of the rafters and supports. I’ve played around with the idea of a tiered roof for a while.
Each roof panel is 2′ x 8′ and raises at an angled 4″ slope
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Instead of the tin roof, We had quite a few Ondura panels left over from the cabin roofing project.
Ondura is an asphalt / tar produce that has been coated with epoxy.
It is exceptionally light weight – and you can’t beat free.
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The previously installed gravel flooring is removed
and runners and joists installed for the flooring
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For the floors, I’ve creosote treated 2″ x 12″ boards
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The completed flooring, A small concrete paver patio is added
and river stones placed in a dry creek bed for the path
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The trouble with gardening is that it does not remain an avocation.
It becomes an obsession.
Phyllis McGinley
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Ed’s potting bench finds a new home
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The completed potting shed
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The potting shed is Jane’s Christmas Present this year.
She’s getting it now…. because it’s kind of hard to hide.

Merry Christmas Mom. Thank you for letting me play in the garden.

5 thoughts on “The Potting Shed

  1. Susan – Thank you sweetie! the idea isnt "sitting" out there but getting back to digging in the dirt…I'm hoping its the catalyst.S-A-L, it turned out MUCH better than I thought I had the talent for… It really makes me beam when I see what I did :)Phong – sadly.. It appears "cozy" is exactly what it is… Jane's already shopping for lounging stuff for it 🙂

  2. Love the new potting shed and garden. I know Aunt Jane will enjoy sitting out there enjoying the view. It's a great Christmas present.

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