Cara Davies remembers the day the city inspector came to take a final look at her garden before signing off on the building permit: “He came around the corner and he was quite surprised–and he said, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s a little bit of paradise.'” The garden shed gets the credit.
No one would have described the .3-acre property in downtown St. Helena as paradise in 1999 when Davies and her husband, Tom, into the Napa Valley house. “There wasn’t much here, just a little lawn with a deck, so we completely redid the backyard,” she said. Landscape architect Josh Chandler designed the garden–and the galvanized shed, which owes its charm both to its unusual proportions and facade of corrugated steel panels salvaged from old chicken coops.
Photography by Mimi Giboin for Gardenista.
Above: Chandler designed the 10-by-10-foot square shed to sit next to Davies’ edible garden–and the swimming pool. the shed’s unusual height–it’s 20 feet tall–and peaked roof make it the center of attention.
Above: The shed’s siding is vintage galvanized steel panels, salvaged from a former farm with chicken sheds that dated to the 1920s. Growing next to the shed is salvia whose deep purple color is intensified by a gray backdrop.
Above: The shed sits on a solid concrete pad etched with lines to evoke the look of pavers. A path of permeable pea gravel leads to the shed.
For more ideas about how to use pea gravel in the garden, see Hardscaping 101: Pea Gravel.
Above: Next to the shed sit Davies’ raised beds, in which she grows a mix of herbs, vegetables, and ornamental plants. “I don’t garden by the book, because I don’t allow enough space for each plant,” she said. “I love the way it looks when it’s really full.”
Above: The four raised beds are built of weather-resistant redwood and bolted together.
Above: A closeup of the shed’s facade.
“The rust is like a patina, and that’s what makes it interesting,” said Davies.
Above: The door latch, from the hardware store, is new. “You can use acid to make things look a little old,” said Davies.
Above: Inside the shed, wood-frame walls are left unfinished and a strip of sunlight seeps in at the roof’s seam.
Above: Davies keeps tools, extra pots, soil, and fertilizer in the shed. “My husband keeps pool supplies in there too,” she said. “It’s a very utilitarian space.”
Above: Across the yard is an outdoor kitchen area with a sink and a wood-burning fireplace.
Above: “The axe gets a lot of use,” said Davies, who cooks outdoors frequently in summer and fall.
Above: “We’ve even used the outside of the shed as a screen, and we project outdoor movies against it,” said Davies.
Above: Umberto, a Bernese mountain dog, is 2. He has a favorite stuffed animal.