A she-shed is the man-cave’s female counterpart—an escape from reality, to-do lists and those with whom a woman shares her home. Instead of poster-clad walls and oversized televisions, she-sheds are tranquil environments, full of creature comforts and space to decompress. For Joan Ball, this means space to re-pot plants, gaze out the window at her raised bed garden and “just be.”
In 1991, Ball purchased her home in Belden’s Cedarbrook subdivision, a community of zero-lot-line homes. One day, she decided she was bored and decided to make good use of her limited space. Her yard has become her biggest project yet.
Ball has dabbled in everything—teaching, art, insurance, real estate, florals, antiques—but her true talent becomes obvious when you pull into her driveway. Her green thumb has touched every corner of the home she shares with her partner, Andy Daugherty, and their spaniels, Elvis and Alexander.
What began with a few herb beds is now a full-blown courtyard garden with trellises, a dining area, fountains, benches, vines and dozens of plants, labeled with teal placards that Ball admits are more for her than for visitors. Rosemary, the seasonally-dressed scarecrow, keeps watch over the grounds. Ball even had a koi pond until she spotted a water moccasin. Her backyard paradise was created over several years with help from Andy.
“He can do anything,” Ball said. “People even call him ‘Handy Andy.’”
Daugherty’s most elaborate project was a souped-up addition to the back of the home that Ball requested to store her gardening supplies. What she got was a garden escape, with luxuries that most cannot claim.
Ball’s she-shed features a cedar shake exterior and a custom stained-glass window that reads, “Potting Thyme.” Inside, you will find all the comforts of home—plenty of storage cabinets, heat and air, a television, refrigerator and microwave. Books and pottery pieces line the shelves and brightly colored paintings cover the wood-paneled and brick walls. The large, antique porcelain sink has become the focal point of the room. It had belonged to Daugherty’s grandmother, who Ball calls the “Martha Stewart of Renfroe, Miss.” On the opposite wall, a picture window overlooks the flowering beds and wooded expanse behind Ball’s small lot.
The space is made for relaxation, but little happens there.
“I never just sit,” said Ball. “There’s always something to do.”
Daugherty cannot take all the credit for the garden retreat. Ball, with help from her friend Phillis Smedley, refinished her cabinets a perfectly distressed shade of green.
Even Ball’s storage room has a storage room. A door on the far wall leads to a closet lined with shelves that houses all the pieces of her many projects.
While Ball had a lot of help from Daugherty in the construction of her she-shed, it’s a space she enjoys alone.
“No boys allowed,” she said, half-jokingly.
With Spring just around the corner, it is likely you will find Ball in her special place, preparing pots, planning this year’s garden or pondering her next Tupelo Garden Club presentation.
“It’s somewhere I just like to be,” she said. “It’s just sweet.”
It’s a garden shed fit for the “Martha Stewart” of Tupelo.