I have a project.

The garden is an utter disgrace. No small part of that is the amount of empty plastic flower pots knocking around the place. They need hiving up into one single place. There’s also all manner of bags of compost, bits of timber, oddments of “useful” things, and just plain rubbish. All need tidying up, into a utility area. And it`s not as if I don`t have part of the garden designated as the utility area – it’s just that it`s not used as such. All it is a neglected corner. What it needs, to make it happen, is a structure where empty pots, bags of compost, and general junk deemed to have future potential can be sorted and stored. I have in mind something that’s a lean-to/open-sided shed type affair, with racking for pots, storage space for bags of compost, various trugs, buckets and the like. I`d also like it to have some kind of basic potting bench area.

Of course given time and money all that is easy to achieve, but here`s an idea I have.

Inspired by the late Geoff Hamilton`s home-build ethic, and TV`s Salvager Rico Daniels’ talent for turning scrap into something useful, and of course making the most of my own creative wombling abilities, I`d like to make it without buying anything, except perhaps screws and fixings. And even then I`ve got a big pot of old screws.

So the plan would be only to use materials that were recycled, or being thrown away. It might seem difficult, to do, but surely that`s part of the challenge.

A number of things seem important in achieving a decent outcome.

A Plan. Though the ability to deviate from that plan will be pretty important too. Change is after all part of the design process. Surely even more so where the materials are not necessarily originally intended for the purpose for which they are now being employed.

Materials. What seems vital is to amass as many, materials as possible prior to commencement, to allow maximum flexibility, and probably to keep acquiring them throughout construction.

An Open Mind. Something just as vital is surely the ability to think creatively about how the materials might be employed.

There is undoubtedly more to think about and there will be things that will only become evident as the process progresses.

But lastly (and perhaps most important) an aesthetic eye. Even though it’s in a miffy part of the garden, and is a functional thing I’d still like it to look good. Or if not good then quirky, in fact quirky is probably good.

Just as it doesn’t look like a pile of rubbish nailed together, by a deranged person.


It’s always a good idea to have a project to look forward to (even if they are pipedreams). I have plans to design a log-store. And one with a green roof no less. In truth I first thought about this a while back, but recently saw a picture of one in a magazine and reckon I can do better.

I’ve also been thinking about a new shed – it may have been mentioned before, or was that the garden office?

This has been prompted by one of my Christmas presents – this rather grand tool hanging gadget. I recall admiring it in a magazine – which was obviously noted. The thing is where do I put it? The shed which is only held together by the woodworms joining hands, or the garage, which looks like a rubbish skip after it’s been messed up by Tracy Emin? What is clearly called for is a new shed worthy of this hangy gadget thing. It will need to be a bit special.

Speaking of Christmas presents, this year I got something I have wanted for years. A subscription to Hortus.

I hadn’t looked at it until recently, through not being in the mood for reading, or else not having the time.

On opening it I was more than a little disappointed, to almost immediately find therein Hugh Johnson, a boring old fart who used to write a tedious column for the RHS magazine. He is still writing about the carp in his moat. YAWN.

It’s a bit like getting off with the long-yearned-for object of your desire only to find (depending on your orientation) that their cleavage is mostly tissue paper, or that a bulging crotch is caused by an old sports sock.

Rather more backward looking than I anticipated, much of it is enjoyable, but I can live without 23-page articles, overwhelmed with the life and times of Anglo-Irish gentry, rather than the garden they created.

But I’m determined to see the positive though. After all, I have two of the Hortus anthologies and they are full of good stuff. Annnnnd, one of my favourite writers Charles Elliott has a piece in there, so it can’t all be bad.

It has made me realise something -there’s not enough entertaining writing about horticulture around.

august 21 003Is this the coolest garden shed in the world?

Well it’s pretty darn cool, but mainly because it’s an old Citroen van in rural France.

If you used a knackered Ford Transit, parked up in long grass, in this country there is no way it would have the same charm. In fact, in some places, I suspect it would earn you a place on one of those “Neighbours From Hell” TV progarrmmes.

I guess it’s all about the setting, although the French would probably cite their “terroir”.

august 09 001