After a July that brought 9 inches of rain to Wellesley, my garden was left a sodden mess. Between rain forest-like humidity and long cloudy days that hid the sun, parts of the yard will likely be mucky for at least another week. The leaves on the geraniums have yellowed, and the echinacea is droopy, both hungover from too much of a good thing. Looking on the bright side, as gardeners always do, the wet weather brought an opportunity to putter about the shed and take inventory. I even put together a floral arrangement for the space, although such fussing smacks of “she-shed” nonsense. Don’t be distracted by the paintings and poetry—this is a working shed that’s not trying to impress anyone. If it happens to please, so be it.
Here’s a peek inside my shed with its combination of Wellesley RDF finds and hand-me-downs. There are some store-boughts, too, but they seems to be in the minority. A combination of functional and fun, my shed gets daily use and I guard it jealously. The phrase, “Just toss it in the shed,” is never uttered by family members. That’s be because anything that gets carelessly tossed into the shed gets unceremoniously tossed out of the shed.
Respect the shed, and nobody gets hurt.
The simple and sturdy 9ft. x 11ft. structure is about 7 years old, a purchase from Decks Plus in Westborough. It rests on a foundation of crushed bluestone. Because my shed is under 100 square feet, no building permit from the town of Wellesley is required. For supersized sheds that measure in over 100 square feet a building permit is required, and you must submit a drawing or sketch of your dream shed, among other rules. I might up my shed game one of these days. It could be worth it just to evict the lawnmower from the garage.
Not sure why I have three rakes, since the two smaller ones hardly ever get used. Still, getting rid of a rake seems like a bad idea. What if one late-October day two people come along who say they simply must help me rake up the fallen sugar maple leaves? It could happen. When it does, I’ll be ready.
Now that things are ship-shape, I can look at the interior of the shed with a critical eye. The shelf is obviously sagging under its weight of a gallon of vinegar (used to control weeds in the driveway cracks), a volume of Mary Oliver poetry (Devotions), and other odds and ends. I should replace the flimsy particle board panel with a sturdy pine plank before I come in one day to find that the shelf has collapsed and vinegar is seeping into the floorboards. Nothing worse than a shed that stinks permanently of salad dressing.
I try to keep most things off the floor so the shed is easy to sweep out.
Shed vignettes are so fun to put together on a rainy day. The display box came from the Wellesley RDF, as did the hedge shears and the painting. I’ve picked up the fishing bobbers from the Charles River over the years. Every time I go out in the kayak, a couple bobbers come my way. I usually find them caught up in the detritus that collects near fallen trees, or at the edge of popular fishing spots. Bobbers are easiest to find in fall and winter after the low-growing vegetation has died back, but a sharp eye can spot them year-round.
A few quotes keep me inspired.
My wheelbarrow is actually green, but I feel no need to rush out and get a red wheelbarrow just to get all matchy-matchy with the William Carlos Williams poem. Nor do I want white chickens. I imagine Williams, who was a physician as well as a poet, would find such literalism tiresome.
River, I feel you.
The sound advice painted on canvas is found art from the Wellesley RDF. This unsigned treasure helps keep it real in the shed.
The metal cone from the RDF holds scissors. The painting above, also from the RDF, has served as inspiration for many floral arrangements.
Cleaning done, I walk out of the shed and there’s Bunny Injured. As usual, he acts like he’s never seen me before and panics, barrel rolling twice before trying to bolt. During early bunny-hood his back hind leg met with some sort of disaster, and every time Bunny Injured tries to make a straight blaze toward the safety of the arborvitae, he can only manage quick, tight circles. When it dawns on him that I’m still right there, Bunny Injured remembers his occupational therapy sessions and tries to control his desperate shaking. I ignore him as he gives me side-eye filled with terror. Finally, equilibrium recovered, he slowly sideways hops to cover, dragging his left hind leg. It must be hard to be a bunny whose instincts work against you.
With the improved weather, I’m back out in the garden for my daily hour. I’ve deadheaded the bedraggled daisies, butterfly bush, and asiatic lilies, and put in a couple of late summer-blooming plants. Part of the lawn looks like it won’t recover, so a reseeding project will have to happen in the fall. The jury (me) is still out on the new rhododendron. The rhod has complained bitterly about its wet feet and how it simply won’t tolerate such conditions. Only the strong survive around here, I told the rhod, and haven’t heard a peep out of it since. I also happen to be judge and executioner in the garden, and the rhod may have heard from others about my tough sentencing guidelines. There’s no mollycoddling in my garden. Either be as useful and beautiful as the shed, or make way for something that will be.