The summer potting shed

I tried to have a post lunch siesta. But it just didn’t work. Sometimes I am lying down on my day bed, all devices on Airplane mode, comfy and doing the deep breathing and the mind exercises…. and there is that blissful moment when things just click and you can feel yourself falling asleep. And then some days my brain just goes ‘how exciting I’m falling asleep’. And then I manage to wake myself up because I’m so amazed. Don’t you wish your brain could just turn itself off when instructed? At least it gives my knee a rest.

All of the mountain could have done with the extra sleep today as we had our predicted storm come in at 0313 this morning. It was supposed to arrive last night when I was poised like a coiled spring to unplug everything attached to the power. But I decided to go to bed and expect the storm in more sociable morning hours.

Just after three was not what I had in mind. Cue a mad rush in the dark with a phone flashlight to unplug all the electrical devices. And then stagger back to bed and try and calculate how damaging the incoming storm was going to be.

It’s hard to fall back into a deep sleep after that.

It didn’t do much until around 6am when the plinking of hail on the guttering had me up and out of bed. Nought to sixty in panic that the garden would shred.

It didn’t. And we have a lovely 20mm of rain to enjoy and cooler weather to revel in. Hurrah.

Today I finished my potted shed clean up.

(I am going to sneak a ‘before’ shot in among this collage just to show you what a mess it was.

And actually the only reason I could start the two day clean up (it was a mess) was because the cat has chosen not to snooze there in the daytime. She has perfected the art of the day bed snooze in my office.

Unlike me.

Note her To Do list and the book from the early start without electricity because of the storm. We usually read the newspapers online on the iPad together waiting for the 0700 alarm.

She gets so cranky if you try and clean up in a space she considers her own.

She will leap at you, demand affection, demand food, and then resort to rather vicious wrist lacerations to get your attention and put down the damn broom / brush / plant. And leave her house in peace.

It is beyond irksome.

Well that’s my excuse for being a mucky slob.

I do go up each day in summer to check on the state of the scale insects and ants on the citrus plants. And water them once a week.

My, that’s a chore. I know I need to resort to neem oil or something to apply to slow down the buggers.

But I do get a small back to the ape-ancestor-nit-picking-party thrill about squishing the scale insects and bothering the ants.

And I spray each tree each day with water from my so far unbroken atomiser. (I break a lot of them.)

And now I can go up there and actually enjoy the space.

I’d enjoy it even more if my chaise longue was still up there. It lived there for a decade.

And was a blissful spot to contemplate the plants.

But it’s here in my office in the main house now. I would go and buy another one – except the world woke up to how fab rattan furniture is and I couldn’t buy a replacement in a brocante or junk shop for the life of me under a few hundred euros. (I bought my lovely one from the now-closed heavenly Jobbing in Valence for 50 euros a few years after we arrived. Gad, I miss that Aladdin’s cave of delights. Online shopping is not the same.)

Pause while we go down the rabbit hole of Etsy. I can buy another one for 320 plus 70 delivery from Arnaud Veylon in Bourg en Bresse…

Back to the real world.

I have grouped all the plants that need a bit more nurturing on Andrew’s zinc table in the centre of the shed away from direct light.

Under the canopy of Virginia creeper that covers the polycarbonate roof.

The cumquat, another citrus tree, two verbenas from Argentina… did I make that up?

Lippya polystachya or Aloysia polystachya. Take your pick. It is an interesting plant. More minty than my normal verbena, but not as vigorous.

It throws up long skinny stalks of deliciously scented leaves.

There is another more mundane lemon verbena here on the table; plus two oreganos which have been ailing for years but not quite giving up the ghost. More verbena bonariensis, a passionfruit. An unhappy salvia that needs nursing… And those titchy plants in front are my future eucalyptus trees I grew from seed this spring.

One of them is here in my office as it seems to thrive on the affection I give it.

Such a dear little thing. Putting on a growth spurt.

The hot sunshine is a problem in summer in that space.

I really use it just for seed sowing in spring and keeping all the seedlings happy before they get shoved out at the end of May.

But luckily the chestnut in front of the potting shed has branches over half the shed.

And the Virginia creeper is now doing more of a job inside rather than just over the other half of the roof.

You may recall the growing-inside-the-potting-shed creeper vines were lopped back by a too tidy and keen Etienne when he built me the lovely long table out on the north side the shed.

But here they are, growing in through the forever open window at the end of the shed. (I’ll have to come up with a solution in winter when the windows will be firmly closed.)

I’m gradually twining them along the drying dahlia wires on the ceiling from both ends of the shed.

Give them a season or two and we will be back where we were last year.

Here’s a visual reminder of the glorious ‘indoor garden’ in 2022.

three things are certain in this life. Death, taxes and Virginia creeper gradually covering a shed.