Putting up nails for order.


Just been banging nails into the roof timbers of the as yet unfinished shed. Neatly in pairs, to hang up the bigger garden tools – spades, shovels, forks, rakes, hoes, big saws, axes, sledge hammers, and so on. wonderful to have them nicely ordered once more, even if they don’t get cleaned or otherwise much loved.
Hand tools, having been piled in a big pot for the last fifteen years or more, will get their own cabinet – a poor old thing, cut down from a handsome kitchen dresser long before it came into my ownership. Indeed, it was in my first shed too…
I shudder rather when I think of the stuff we threw away from there and which now would fetch handsome prices in those fancy garden shops off London’s Kings Road, or in the Columbia Road flower market… Potato baskets, ancient scythes, two handed saws, sickles, a box of loom weights, Victorian seed packets and catalogues. The only thing from it we still have is a lovely cast-iron cloche, which, someday, will have its missing glass panes replaced, a coat of paint, and a valuation at the auctioneers….
Anyway, the shed… It was up in the corner of the garden walls, behind some melon frames. South facing, it had by far the best view of the garden, and by far the best light. Daft place to put it, we thought. Soon, in clouds of acrid smoke, we got rid of it, and used the area for lazy lunches, comfortable seats and so on. The old cabinet got dumped in the garage and we more or less forgot about it… It’s cornice was missing, one of the doors in the upper part was rotten, the pair of drawers below had lost handles, and the cupboard below them had been sawn down so that the thing would fit into the low ceiling of the old shed (or even the low ceiling of the house – which sometimes alarmed our taller friends).
Then, moving to another house without much kitchen storage, no pantry, and so on, we got the cabinet in the garage a new cornice, new panelled doors for its top, handles for its drawers, shelved, and a nice coat of paint. It did sterling service once more in a kitchen.
After a few years, though, the new (well, 18th century) kitchen got a bit more organised, and the old cabinet once again found itself in a dank and ramshackle shed at the end of the garden. Circles.
It’s next phase is now in the balance. It has a new roof above it, and will soon have an amusing shed ‘facade’ in front of it.
Sitting there last evening, we realised how the new shed will catch the afternoon sun… Why should just the rows of tools hanging on the nails enjoy that? Should the building not be a summerhouse? Or perhaps we could share the sun with the potting table, the tools, the compost bags, and, indeed, the old grey cabinet…

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About david stuart

garden writer and journalist, and occasionally a designer, with a garden in the Scottish borders, and his pal's gardens in Edinburgh, London, and Lincolnshire. They keep both of us very, very busy. Books I've written listed on my website, and dozens of articles and garden and plant pictures. Currently working on several new projects. One of these was to return to painting - see the blog - and which is proving exciting! www.david-stuart.co.uk
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