More than a place to store a growing collection of trowels, turning forks, and spades, this little building offers the perfect spot for learning how to garden like a Southerner. When time permits, it is where the homeowners contemplate their morning chores with their favorite coffee cups in hand and music playing softly in the background. At the end of the day, it is a welcome escape where cuttings are taken and plants are repotted.
Don't fret that this sort of bond between garden shed and gardener can be achieved only as the product of exclusive design. If you have access to the Internet, a shed this beautiful and practical can be yours too.
Foreign Accent, Local Color
When Canadian couple Lynne and Bruce Walker decided to put down roots in Williamsburg, Virginia, it was because they loved the regional architecture. Influenced by British parents who were avid gardeners, Lynne was drawn to the tidy dependencies, or service buildings, that the historic homes in the area boast. Finding such a structure prebuilt locally was difficult at first, but then their luck changed.
Diligent sleuthing revealed Gardensheds, Inc. (www.gardensheds.com or 1-877-743-3711) as a great source. Appropriately enough, Lynne and Bruce's choice was the company's flagship model, the Williamsburg Gardenshed. A mouse click and several phone calls later, the centerpiece of their garden was delivered on a flatbed truck, preassembled and almost ready for use.
An Extension of the Home
Working closely with landscape designer Peggy Krapf, owner of Heart's Ease Landscape & Garden Design in Toano, Virginia, the couple aimed to make the shed visible from the driveway while maximizing the planting area.
Prior to the structure's arrival, they had a 9½- x 9½-foot concrete pad poured. "Within a half hour of delivery, the dovecote cupola was attached and the delivery driver was off on his way," marvels Lynne. Besides customizing several features, the Walkers opted to paint the structure themselves to match their home's exterior. They also added electricity and plumbing to accommodate a sink. Then they finished the structure with shutters, window boxes, and carriage lights.
"The entire experience has been enjoyable and positive," says Lynne. The shed may still be the same, but the plants in the garden are very different now than they were on the day the structure was delivered. Bruce and Lynne have embraced this evolution as they've found what grows stronger and flowers longer in Virginia's climate. While not everything thrives all the time, at the center of this landscape is a little building that's the source of endless inspiration and unbridled enthusiasm.
If you're planning your garden, Lynne and Bruce suggest starting a clip file with photos of looks you like. Designer Peggy Krapf says it's the best place to start when working with professionals because it gives them a feel for what you want.
By studying her clients' images, Peggy learned that the following ideas were important to them.
- Formal yet functional style―A main walk leads to the dependency, while a smaller secondary walk offers an area for seating. A center circle softens the geometric grid and features an urn brimming with seasonal color.
- A cutting garden―They dug out the heavy clay soil and replaced it with a rich, well-draining loam to promote vigorous roots and prolific flowers.
- Unifying materials―The brick paths and the white woodwork of the fence and pergola tie the garden to the Colonial-style house.
"A Fab Prefab" is from the September 2007 issue of Southern Living.