The Great Decluttering Myth & the magic of one garden shed…
There’s no doubt about it – de-cluttering your desk, home or garden shed can help you feel more in control.
But something is lost, too. A completely decluttered life has fewer layers and less history. It is, in some ways, less rich
De-cluttering the key to happiness? Not always…
Decluttering’ has almost become a religion today. Decluttering tips, books and programmes promise to change your life, make you more successful and a happier person.’Throw away everything that doesn’t make your life wonderful,’ is one de-cluttering tip. A friend of mine followed it and threw away all his books, including first editions belonging to his wife…there was not much ‘wonderful’ in his life immediately following…
So I was very excited to photograph the interior of a garden ‘shed’ that has not been cleared out for around 50 years.
Its owner died ten years ago and the new owners have the left the contents largely undisturbed – even though the ‘garden shed’ is actually a sizeable stables and they need more space.
In the past, people often left the contents of their lofts, attics and sheds. When they sold their houses, they simply walked away from anything they couldn’t be bothered to take. My parents found two 1915 signed photos of King George and Queen Mary in the attic of the house we grew up in. To me, it has always seemed magical to hold something that had been signed by the ruling monarch in the year that saw the first Zeppelin raids on London, the battle of Ypres and the retreat from Gallipoli.
Now clearing your house is a legal requirement. However, in this case, the buyers had agreed to take anything the sellers didn’t want. As it was a probate sale, the sellers simply left the attics and stable block as it had been. More than five years on, the stable block is still virtually untouched.
There are little glimpses into horticultural life fifty years ago. There are old certificates hanging on the wall, won in the late 1960s. The entry asks for the owner’s name, and adds ‘name of gardener (if appropriate).’
I don’t know enough about gardening clubs to know if this is still on the form or whether it harks back to a time when even people with middle-sized gardens might expect to have a full-time gardener. (This ‘garden shed’ serves a one-acre walled garden).
Nothing can stay the same forever. One day this building will be cleared. But however sympathetically it is converted to 21st century use, it will be difficult to keep all its sense of history: the cobbled floors, the old stalls and the twentieth century garden tools and memorabilia. So I think it’s magical that there hasn’t been any automatic ‘de-cluttering’.
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