Inside a garden shed where time stands still…..

Posted By: Alexandra Campbell On: April 17th, 2016 In: Garden style & living, Vintage & thrift

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?

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…

Open the door to fifty years of gardening

Open the door to fifty years of gardening…

So I was very excited to photograph the interior of a garden ‘shed’ that has not been cleared out for around 50 years.

Brick shed

Framed by falling blossom, this tool shed lies largely untouched.

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.

Old chemists cabinet for seed storage

An old chemist’s cabinet was used for storing seeds – probably since the late 1940s.

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.

Traditional stables

The old stable stalls are still there (the wooden wall on the right), along with the brick floor and garden equipment dating back to the 1950s and 60s

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.

Vintage garden pots

A mix of pots, probably accumulated since Victorian days, with today’s plastic pots amongst them.

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).’

Horticultural show certificates

First, second and third prize certificates for garden shows in the 1960s still hang on the walls

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).

Grassmaster lawn equipment

Is this for lawn fertiliser or to collect grass on the front of a 1950s lawn-mower?

Stable block interior

I like the sunlight on the permanently-open cupboard and the beautiful beamed ceiling

Vintage garden cupboard close-up

Closer up on the cupboard

Old garden tools

Some gardening is still done from this building, but the older vintage tools still hang where they have probably belonged since the late 1940s.

Rusty saws and spider's webs

Rusty saws and spider’s webs…

Seed drawer

Seed drawer…

First prize for a vegetable not already mentioned...

First prize for any other fruit not mentioned…

Storing plant sticks

Sticks to support plants are kept in bundles and hung from the roof – quite a useful storage tip!

Old gardening coat

The previous owner gardened here (with his full-time gardener) from the late 1940s until his late eighties. His gardening coat still hangs up on the side of a cupboard.

Nothing can stay the same forever. One day this garden shed 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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9 Comments

  • Oh what a beautiful site – i am really enjoying reading your articles.
    A magical place – i would love to discover a dis used garden shed!

  • Steven Jones says:

    Great place. Enjoyed looking at the lovely pictures of it!

    – Steve

  • Emma says:

    Really lovely article. I love having a spring clean, but I must admit it can be easy to get carried away! Good reminder not to automatically chuck everything in a black bin bag..

    • It’ll be a sad day when the black bin bags go in this shed – but they must. I’m just so impressed that the current owners have held back so far, and think that when they do eventually do it, they’ll take great care to convert sympathetically.

  • Hi Alexandra, this reminds me of my Grandads garden shed, after he passed away we found all sorts of bits and bobs in there, loads of pairs of old glasses from when he was potting plants, but the strangest thing was an old WW2 bayonet! Not sure what it was doing in the shed, it was extremely rusty!

    • A bayonet reminds me of Jones the butcher in Dad’s Army, who was always saying ‘they don’t like it up them, they don’t’ with reference to his bayonet and some ancient Victorian war he’d fought in. It is hard to imagine how it must have been used in gardening terms, though -a little awkward for using to scrape out weeds between paving stones, which is the only thing I can think of.

  • What a fabulous place. It really is possible to imagine that the gardener is still around some place, perhaps just out sowing a few seeds.

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