A Spring view of the Garden House

When I was growing up my sisters, cousins  and I spent lots of time with our maternal grandparents.

They were the only grandparents  we ever really knew.

What wonderful memories.

While my great-grandmother was  living with my grandmother

There were four generations of women

Doing what women and girls did in the 50’s.

Standing over the floor furnace flannel night gowns filled with warm air.

Six of us sitting on the living room floor playing solitaire on everyone’s aces.

But perhaps my favorite memories are of Grandma’s wash house.

Whenever we would gather at her house in the summer

Grandma would turn her wash house into our play house.

There were trunks of old clothes.

A window converted in our minds into a drive up window where we  happily served our “customers”.

And, of course, our “swimming pool”.

Grandpa would pull a cattle tank up to the house and fill it with water for our summer swims.

Ann, Gloria and me in our "swimming pool".

It was our place.

We were indulged.

We were loved.

I’ve carried those days in my head and heart for decades.

I dreamed of a garden version of the wash house.

So…one winter a few years back when it was too cold for golf

John needed a project.

What’s next he asked?

Master Bath or Garden House?

Being my boring practical self

Master Bath I answered.

Thankfully, John’s more fun.

So we spent the winter designing the garden house.

We had been talking about it since we moved here

Collecting pictures of structures we liked.

But…none were exactly what we wanted.

In time it simply came from John’s  imagination.

He wanted it to fit into our backyard.

To look like it had always been there.

To get the scale and slope of the roof right

He built a foam board-model.

Weekend after golf-less weekend he tweaked away.

I’ve learned the process after 35+ years of projects and marriage.

I know exactly when to enter into that process

And when to bow out.

It’s an interesting rhythm we have mastered.

While John proportioned the outside

He and I negotiated the inside space.

John’s best idea was to build a partial wall well into the space.

Behind it we could stash the lawn mower, leaf blower and other unsightly things.

My contribution was to panel the entire space in peg board.

By spring we were ready to begin.

But first we had to remove the wall of arborvitae and small shed that inhabited that side of the yard.

Taking down a "wall" of Arborvitae

It was ….well….alarmingly bare.

But exciting at the same time.

All through the spring and early summer we watched as it rose from the bare spot.


John oversaw every detail

It was clear this was not your average backyard shed when the cupola arrived from Maine.

Almost done

It is for me a peaceful hub of my passion.

Sunday evenings find me stretched out on the little antique French settee

Sore to the bone

And listening to Krista Tippett’s “On Being” on NPR.

(The best program on radio or television.)

It has served as the bar for parties

The "potting bench bar"

The backdrop for bridal showers.

And the heart of the small luncheons Debra and I host as we interview “Wise Women”.

Lunch with Debra and Wise Women


The master bathroom is still circa 1947.

It’s day will come.

I am oh so thankful to John for that golf-less winter

And the gift it brought me.

I look forward to playing in it with my own grandchildren someday.

Creating memories with them.

For them.


P.S. A few years after we completed the garden house we ran across this newly published book.

Look familiar?







Filed under Garden House, Uncategorized


  1. Gay Cocheres

    Great story!

  2. Linda

    It’s an awesome garden house!, but you knew that…

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