Showing the Sheds

As it's National Shed Week, it's only right and proper that we should take a whistle-stop tour of some of those I spotted at this week's RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. It's also the perfect excuse to highlight one of the year on year strengths of this event: the edible gardens :)

The RHS' own Edible Garden is one of the show's highlights with half an acre of tippity top fruit and vegetables. The Constant Gardener has already enthused about this on her kitchen garden blog, so instead we're taking a peep inside the adjacent Grow Your Own Marquee, where the ever reliable Pennard Plants has the most solid looking of sheds.

Outside in the Small Gardens category, there are two sheds of particular note: firstly a more contemporary offering in Burgon and Ball's 5-A-Day garden...

...followed by potentially two for the price of one seen in Southend Youth Offending Services The Home Front. Post-WWII, many Anderson air raid shelters like the one shown here on the right were converted into garden sheds.

As you can see green roofs are becoming a de rigeur feature in the show gardens and I particularly like the more 'wild and woolly' one seen here.

Finally, we have The Stockman's Retreat, though really it's a small cottage rather than a shed...

... this is by Chris Beardshaw for the WorldSkills London 2011 Team UK.

There are loads more sheds to see at this year's show, but now it's up to you to go and find them for yourselves...


  1. I love sheds. We have one. Just one. What we would like would be to have one each and one for all of us. That would make five - and five wouldn't fit in our garden! It would be good to have a shed with an upstairs too. Sheds smell good.

    Looks as if you could move into Chris Beardshaw's 'tent'!

    However, I feel edgy about the WW11 themed sheds. I don't like the 'Dig for Victory' slogans either. Both seem popular at present - but I think it trivialises what people went through in the war. What we do now can have no parallel with that, however many vegetables we grow. (Or, in our case, would like to.)

    There are all sorts of issues about sustainability, food miles etc. We may be digging as a contribution to saving the world. I don't underestimate its importance. But re-cycling a slogan like this feels too close to the bone.

    I know you didn't put the notices on the sheds at Hampton Court (!) but the photos have set me wondering what you think.


  2. Esther - I have 2 sheds: I'm a very lucky girl :)

    When I see the Dig for Victory poster, I always wonder where the other foot went to and did the 'model' fall over whilst the photo was being taken.

    On a more serious note, I've written quite a bit about food issues. It's simply not being addressed properly at the moment (despite some very good campaigns led by the RHS and Landshare for instance) and I believe we really need something like an updated form of the Dig for Victory campaign again, possibly with backing legislation.

    A reviewed a very interesting book called Dig for Victory a while ago (do borrow it from the library if you can) which gives a very full account of what happened in WWII. From there, you'll find a link to my thoughts on the Food 2030 report produced by the last government. I've yet to see what the current government has to say on the subject.

    From there I also wrote about Ration Book Britain a TV documentary which set me thinking about these issues and writing my thoughts down for the first time.

    Have a look at the comments in all of these - lots of interesting things were said.

    I try not to think about it too much - I get far too frightened about the future if I do.

  3. PS the RHS' Edible Garden at last year's Hampton Court had some shocking statistics about how little we grow here in the UK (we're at pre-WWII levels again). I believe eating more seasonal food (which is usually also cheaper) is the first step people can take to help to address this.

    The B&Q garden at this year's Chelsea also highlighted that if the food supply stopped, London has just 4 days worth of fresh food at its disposal.

  4. PPS Pennard Plants specialise in heritage seeds and plants, so it's natural for them to choose to have an exhibit with a nostalgic feel to it.

  5. I have serious shed envy. I have one, and it is very useful, but it is also very small, and I long for the kind of shed that has room to sit down and make a cuppa as well as store things. With a shaggy roof too. Though no shaggy carpet, that would be silly!

    I don't know what I think about the Dig for Victory slogan being used as some sort of nostalgia thing. I know I get annoyed at the throw-away "anyone can grow veg, in the smallest of spaces, in containers" type arguement. Yes it is sort of true, but you only get a very small return, and the cost, in terms of compost, pots, water etc doesn't exactly make sense environmentally. And given that new houses seem to come with ever smaller gardens, and more and more councils are looking for ways around the requirement to provide allotments, I despair. It seems to me that significant growing your own requires a level of commitment and effort that few working couples in today's world can manage - witness the plots left to go to weeds because it turned out that even half an allotment was too much work given all the other time constraints people labour under. Damn, the sheds made me smile and now I feel fed up! Am off to make beetroot hummus for lunch, which I would never have discovered had I not got an allotment to play with, so go figure...

  6. i wonder, how much shelter from a raid would the bomb shelter be? also, the sheds remind me of the 'small house' movement stateside as they are about the same size. i *so* covet a mini greenhouse! that, & a house-sizes aquaponics system. what especially frightens me is what would happen once the 4day supply dwindles to an afternoons' worth....

  7. Wow, I need a better shed.

  8. The great british shed!
    The number of wearysome debates garden designers have to have about these!
    Ban them.
    Scale down what you use in the garden and store it in the garage!

  9. Janet - more food for thought (pardon the pun) thank you :)

    We could have a whole debate on planning and the provision of space for gardening (private or public for starters).

    Re your comment about time: it was interesting in Digging for Victory to see just how little time people had. Imagine a 12 hour shift at a factory, going home to do all the chores we need to do (without the gear we have to do them with today) and then you have to go and tend to your plot.

    I would say that its our raised standard of living today (and lack of a desperate time such as a war) which gives us the choice not to spend time growing our own.

    How long we have that luxury remains to be seen.

    Petoskystone - they definitely saved lives, though of course they wouldn't withstand a direct hit. And the thought of the consequences of an afternoon's worth of food is most chilling.

    Garden tips - don't we all!

    Robert - we'll have to agree to disagree on this one and there's another whole debate to have re your comment. I could go on at length at how the lack of storage space in houses means that the garage becomes the default storage space for there before a car OR garden gear can get a look in. I'm sure you must have some neat solutions to share with us which meet your clients' needs so...

    ... show us your sheds!

  10. Re the Digging for Victory slogan - my problem with this being co-opted to the GYO movement is simply that it doesn't make sense. Where's the victory? Are we at war and nobody told me?

    I think it's just a bit of thoughtless knee-jerk sloganising. I prefer the one I saw at the Edible Gardening Show earlier this year - 'Keep Calm and Grow More Veg'. Now my motto in times of stress :D

    I think there is a more serious point re Digging for Victory or whatever you want to call it: which is that the current model of global monopolies and climate-can-go-to-hell trade which sees rhubarb shipped in here from Holland in April when it's growing in abundance in Yorkshire yet growers can't sell it... is completely unsustainable.

    That to me is the value of the GYO movement. We are taking the solution into our own hands: if we turn our backs on the supermarkets and grow our own food, not only do we contribute to the food security of this country (after all, the government is hardly showing signs of coming up with a coherent solution), we're also putting far better quality food on our plate which does less damage to the environment.

    You don't need to be self-sufficient to contribute: and that's why it's also valuable to encourage people to grow a few strawberries in a pot if that's all they've got room for. Because that's one less punnet that has to be flown in from Israel.

    Right - rant over, I told you I had a lot to say on the subject! :D

  11. TCG - a good rant thank you :)

    BTW The Keep Calm etc is also borrowed - from the WWII Keep Calm and Carry On poster


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