Things have been pretty busy in my world over the last month. We’ve had a trip to the UK, put on the market and sold our Sydney home, celebrated our great friends, Jo and Glen’s, marriage and visited Adelaide, all alongside our full time jobs and my studies. Phew.
Which is why I haven’t managed to get to an awful lot of gardens recently. If I’m quiet on my blog, you know I’ve been seriously busy. Garden visiting comes just above shelter and food on my personal Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and as I don’t watch TV, I can always find a bit of evening time to write them up.
So I was extremely happy yesterday, in meeting Jo for an all important wedding debrief, to be taken to ‘The Potting Shed’. There is a bit of a theme going on here, but I have to say, as nice as Chelsea’s ‘Bumpkin’ was, the Potting Shed does win hands down.
The owners’ objective was to create a cafe that ‘feels like you are on your family’s porch’. I hate to say it, but there aren’t many family porches like this that I’ve seen. It is just incredible. Not just a few plants here and there but plants above you, plants at your feet, plants by your side and plants behind you. A huge mix of plants, mostly in pots, and all thriving in (yesterday’s) 37 degree heat. That’s some doing.
And this isn’t a fad. They haven’t got a company in to set it all up for launch and then slowly the plants fade away until there are just a few left. No. It’s been there almost four years and just keeps growing and evolving. It now covers almost an acre, complemented with fresh, organic shops, permaculture gardens with heirloom vegetables and a whole array of different and innovative seating areas. I just couldn’t believe I had only just found it!
The thing that’s a real surprise is that it’s all set in a 1920s industrial precinct in fairly central Sydney; the Potting Shed was a concrete car park just a few years ago. But the owners’ vision to create a thriving urban sanctuary has certainly come to fruition; the place is buzzing: with people, plants and everything in between.
If I were to look at the Potting Shed as a garden and think about why it works so well, there are a few things that come to mind. Firstly, it has real character. So often cafes, if they have plants at all, are all a bit overly perfect for me. Everything matches, everything is pruned to within an inch of its life; it’s just too static and contrived. On the other hand, however, it is possible to look too amateur, if everything is disjointed and randomly thrown together. The Potting Shed has managed to achieve that very fine balance of individuality and unity, with heaps of character too.
Secondly, it’s just so full of plants that you get quite lost within them. The city feels a million miles away and you sit in your cosy, private corner of the cafe, a sense of seclusion provided by screening plants, feeling your stress levels reduce by the second. It feels alive, fresh, vibrant and happy.
And thirdly, the plants have been selected with great skill and clearly looked after with passion. Plants that needed light had more light, plants that could cope with dry soil inhabited the smallest pots and much as I love Hydrangea, I was so pleased there weren’t any here. This was a true plantsman’s garden and one that anyone from the keenest horticulturist to the keenest beer drinker could enjoy and appreciate.
I’m just working out when I can next get back!