Friday, January 20, 2012

The Potting Shed: Garden Book Review

Holley at Roses and Other Garden Joys has started a new meme today: Monthly Garden Book Review.  I have a large collection of garden books, so I am happy to join in the fun. My first review for 2012 is of The Potting Shed by Linda Joan Smith. I will illustrate this review with pictures of my own potting shed.

My potting shed is the focal point of my kitchen garden.
Smith takes a very whimsical look at potting sheds in this little book. I find her wistful prose quite charming as she portrays the purposes and pleasures of the gardener's workspace (not always a shed, but perhaps a corner of a garage or laundry room). The book is in two parts: The first part called 'Where the Garden Begins' discusses the pleasures, traditions, and tools of the potting shed. The second part takes us through the gardening year, and is entitled 'Seasonal Joys and Timely Labors'.

"The shed's  hallmark, of course, is a potting bench, a yard deep and as wide as space allows," Smith says.

I start seeds in the house, then place them under a light on the potting bench.
She describes how to equip the potting shed with hooks and racks, bins and baskets. She devotes a chapter to tools.

I found this useful cabinet in the attic.
Crates for storage hang from hooks in my shed.
She shows the potting shed as a very personal space, a sanctuary of each gardener's own making.

I personalized my shed with a display of antique tools and an ancient ladder...

... and with other finds from the attic in our old farmhouse.
 Throughout Smith's book there are gardening tips in side boxes, from how to make compost tea to making seed starter mixes.  There are also boxes containing charming quotations. One of my favorites is by Ralph Waldo Emerson, "My hoe as it bites the ground revenges my wrongs, and I have less lust to bite my enemies. In smoothing the rough hillocks, I sooth my temper." It is obvious to me that Smith really is a gardener!

If you want to know how to build a shed, this book is not for you. It is an 'ideas' book rather than a 'how to' manual. You would be better reading Building Great Sheds by Danielle Truscott.

The construction of my shed.
Construction was completed in 2006
I change the outside decoration of the shed frequently. Chickens this year.
I open Smith's little book often, not only for the prose but also for the photographs that bring back memories of my Dad's shed. Hugh Palmer's photographs are of REAL sheds, often quite rustic, showing the true purpose of a potting place. Each shed reflects the personality of its owner.

This book is not for every gardener, but you will enjoy it if you are crazy about potting sheds like me. (Some people think that I'm just crazy to feel so passionate about a shed.) But this book could make you look at potting sheds differently.

Thank you Holley for hosting this meme. I'm now going over to your blog, Roses and Other Gardening Joys, to read some more book reviews. I know I'll want to add some of them to my collection -- there goes the 'spend less on gardening' resolution. We are getting our first plough-able snowfall tonight, so it's perfect weather for reading.

Happy Gardening! Happy Reading!

Pamela x

~~ I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited!
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. Pam, thank so much for joining in! Although, I shouldn't have come here to read your review - because now I must have a potting shed! I absolutely love yours - it looks so useful. I have for years given consideration to a greenhouse, but knew that that wasn't exactly what I needed. But, looking at your shed, this is it! A small place for seeds, but also a place for potting up plants, and some storage. I am also glad you mentioned Building Great Sheds, as I have just added building a shed to my project list! Thank you!

  2. Hi Pam and thank you! I don't think I'll ever have a potting shed, but I do have a potting bench! Anyway, looking at the pictures in your post, I can get some ideas for my garage where I keep my garden stuff.
    P.S. I've been your follower from the very beginning, but only now I managed to switch from faceless TatyanaS avatar to my normal puppy-sniffing-poppies avatar (I have too many accounts).

  3. Pam I adore your shed/greenhouse....mine is in the basement and garage...if I had the space I would be building a shed...

  4. I treasure my shed as much as you do. All of my 'gardening gold' is stored inside--tools, natural pest deterrents, organic garden supplements and disease treatments to name a few. This book sounds so helpful in providing ideas for storage, etc. I like all the photos.

  5. I enjoyed the photos of your potting shed as much as your book review. Your potting shed is so orderly and whimsical at the same time.

  6. What a fantastic potting shed you have!

  7. My Potting Shed is a little bit of heaven for me especially in the winter. The Potting Shed book is one of my favs picked up at Smith and Hawkins... how I miss Smith and Hawkins!

  8. Everybody needs a potting shed or a greenhouse or some place to hang out and putter.

    I feel the same way as Emerson about Deadheading flowers -- Off with Your Head! makes me feel so much better.

    Great post.

  9. Pam,
    If I had a gardening shed like yours I think I'd never leave it to go back to the house! It looks so inviting with that row of slanted windows.
    Great post and book idea.
    Stay warm up there in the Poconos.

  10. Pam,I have always wanted a shed just like yours! I am currently building a garden room from rusty tin and such. I may have to open this book! Thanks for the review. Greggo.

  11. I love your shed and wish I had one just like it. It is pretty and functional.

  12. I now have potting shed envy, how I'd love a potting shed of my very own but there's no space for one here, perhaps one day.

  13. If I had a shed like that, I would use it as an office to write my posts on the spot. The garland of flowers makes it look so welcoming.

  14. Pam, I have serious potting shed envy! I have wanted a potting shed for so long , but it would mean removing a tree in the backyard so it is not meant to be! But I can still dream and yours looks absolutely perfect! Thanks for sharing your photos and the book recommendation. I will definitely look for it!

  15. Thank you Pam for the inside look at your shed, it's wonderful! I particularly like the before and after shots of your shed and garden. You're right, it adds so much to the garden, anchoring the area. and now you've given me ideas about moving our small shed to a different part of the garden where it might add more value.

  16. I love the pictures of your potting shed and kitchen garden! Especially the one with the wreath on the door - that's something I wanted to put on the door of my shed, and you've just reminded me. Thanks for the review!

  17. How wonderful, don't you love those books that you can go to over and over again, even if not for information, just to remind ourselves of why we garden! Love your potting shed...I'm totally jealous...especially with that bank of windows overhead. I know that's where I'd be most of the winter ;-)

  18. I think your potting shed looks like the adult equivalent of the club or tree house that we all had (or wanted) as children. I pot all my plants for the nursery using a potting bench in my garage. It is quite scenic because it used to be the old stables. However, I would love my own separate space.

  19. Pam your shed looks so perfect and sooo tidy. If only you saw mine! Agghhh!

  20. Love your shed! How can I do something like that in my shack . . . hmmmm . . .

  21. Pam your potting shed is utterly covetable!

  22. Interesting book to be sure. What a lovely potting shed you have. Wish I had room for one here. I so enjoy reading your posts.

  23. Hi Pam. I'm on vacation and I plan to read your blog archive. I tend to read veggie blogs, but, I am really loving the way you garden visually, so I will be incorporating some things I am seeing on yours into mine. Eg. I who've two birdhouses to put up in spring for the first time. I never thought of clustering them as you did. Will the birds use them that close together? I'm really enjoying your blog Pam.