One of the gems of this site is the old potting shed. By chance, the previous owner of the gardener’s cottage and potting shed had not got round to his planned development of the building before he decided to leave.
Here is Peter, seen through the potting shed doors with a view towards the glasshouses, sloping off with squeaky toy to find a patch of sun.
So the Victorian potting shed comprises two pairs of double doors at each end, one to the road, one to the garden as seen, the floor is still paved with herring bone bricks, largely undisturbed. To the left in the corner of the picture, a staircase rises to a storage floor above with a trap for hauling up dry goods. The shed has a large Victorian fire grate. I suspect its use was not only to warm the staff while they spent hours potting on plants, but as much to heat the brick wall externally and create a warm place for bringing on produce a little early in the season. Or even a little later in the season .
At the roadside end of the building is the Head Gardeners room, where I would like to say I am sitting writing this, but am not, as it is cold and wet today. This room has a fireplace too and wooden racks, labelled in a firm hand in pencil, indicating what seed was stored where over winter: Brussel sprout, Broccoli, Parsnip, Parsley. His original desk is there too. The discovery of this caused me more than a flutter of excitement. I had only seen such a room at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire, surely the most intriguing house in the charge of the National Trust, kept in the state of decline in which the Trust took it on in 1980. At that stage it had not been touched for 100 years, so there is taxidermy and peeling paint a plenty to fire the imagination. The Head Gardener’s room there is not dissimilar to mine, but touchingly the walls are covered with rosettes won at local horticultural events.
We have a Horticultural Society in this village. This is such a special place, reminding me of the suburbs of Nottingham in which I grew up in the 1970’s. In those years our ‘village’ as it was then, had a huge horticultural show held at the Cricket Club and so many of the residents were involved in that. Here, you can win up to 70p for the best treacle tart in the show, if handy craft and veg growing are not your thing. I feel I will have achieved a lot the first year that this kitchen garden can enter that show again, but I will leave the treacle tarts to those with a more experienced hand in the kitchen than mine.