The Potting Shed, Alexandria

The Grounds, Alexandria

‘The Grounds’, home to the Potting Shed, Alexandria

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.

Me (hair and make up done for the first time in years!), my gorgeous bride, Jo, and the lovely, indefatigable bridesmaid Karly

Me (unusually with hair and make up done!), my gorgeous bride, Jo, and the lovely, indefatigable bridesmaid Karly, clutching our beautiful bouquets

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.

Beautiful, surprisingly hardy, Mandevilla

Beautiful, surprisingly hardy, Mandevilla

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.

You can see the misters in place; good to see that the plants are taken care of so well (mine will be jealous!)

You can see the misting in action; good to see that the plants are taken so well care of (mine will be jealous!)

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.

Plants, plants everywhere at the Potting Shed

Plants, plants everywhere at the Potting Shed

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!

I do love to sit under a planted pergolas; there were so many grapes on this vine, too

I do love to sit under a planted pergola, so much nicer than a solid roof; there were so many grapes on this vine, too

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.

Or perhaps you'd like to have your meal in a greenhouse?

Or perhaps you’d like to have your meal in a greenhouse?

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.

Pretty, pretty water station

Pretty, pretty water station

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.

The beautiful flowers were hard to walk past (but in 37 degree heat, I did!)

The beautiful flowers were hard to walk past (but in 37 degree heat, I did!)

I’m just working out when I can next get back!

The staff seem as happy as the plants to be there!

Even the staff seemed as happy as the plants to be there!

I will be back!

Until next time!

10 thoughts on “The Potting Shed, Alexandria

  1. Louise Dutton says:

    Hooray! Finally a place I have visited…..regularly! This place is crowded on weekends so best to go during the week. We were introduced to this place by some friends we have made through my husbands work. Whenever I get to Sydney we try to make some time to visit and enjoy the food, drink and atmosphere! A gardeners cafe for sure!

    • jannaschreier says:

      I’m still amazed I hadn’t heard of it before. But now I’m finding out that everyone who has been there, gardener or not, seems to think it is an incredible place. I’m even thinking Paul needs to go and I’m not usually one for using up ‘garden tokens’ on places I have already visited! Glad you’ve been able to enjoy it, too.

  2. Adriana f says:

    Love this place Janna – what could be better than being surrounded by plants whilst you dine. Only problem would be my spinning head as I tried to eat at the same time as taking it all in. One on my must visit list now for when we are in Sydney in the future. By the way you and your friends all look gorgeous at the wedding. And yes you certainly are very busy – almost head spinning too!

    • jannaschreier says:

      Yes, I fear I wasn’t a very good dining partner. Head spinning, camera clicking, it had it all! I just couldn’t help but be distracted. It’s obviously somewhere I need to visit far more regularly so that I can practice concentrating on eating and chatting.

    • jannaschreier says:

      Yes, it got over 40 yesterday and I was wondering (as I sat in aircon) whether I preferred that or 4. Decided it really didn’t make any difference as either makes you housebound. It’s back to a more normal 22 today; much more civilised, thank goodness.

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