Buffalo Garden garden art

Curating the Taj-ma-shed

I was going for a colorful cottage nostalgia vibe.

Okay, so most people don’t have to worry about curating the contents of their garden shed. But this is no ordinary shed. I think we can all agree on that. In the coming year the shed will be seen in a national magazine (fingers crossed), a local magazine (fingers crossed), an ad campaign, and a tourism video. It’s already been in the Buffalo News. To my knowledge, it’s the only garden shed with its own press agent.

New artwork for the shed. Thanks Mike.

I visited a store in Portland, Oregon a few years ago named Boys Fort (Furnish your fort!). It was the closest thing I’ve every seen to a men’s gardening store. The merchandise was garden and home accessories, all with a handcrafted/repurposed materials/nostalgia bent.

I’ve tried to do the same with the interior of my shed. Most of the items I’ve had laying around the attic, basement or garage over the years, collecting dust. Others were from my family’s summer cottage, on Thunder Lake, just outside Binghamton, NY. The cottage is being sold, so last spring, I took items that otherwise might have been dumpster-bound.

Here’s some detail on some of these items. This post is mainly for me. Or, in the off-chance, that my daughter, in the far off distant future, ever wonders where some of the crap in the shed came from.


The bow is one I got for Christmas when I was probably around nine or ten years old (early ’70s). I have arrows around someplace I have yet to find. They’ll be added eventually.
I keep my gardening books out there in the shed – where I use them!  Many are written by friends and acquaintances. Some even have photos of my garden in them!
I built these shelves from existing wooden crates, parts of shipping palettes and wooden parts from an old waterbed (from the ‘late ’80s). The brown urn on the top shelf has been in kicking around the Charlier family since the ’70s. The copper watering can leaks, so it’s only good as a prop. You can barely see, on the far right, the edge of a round mirror. My first job out of collage in 1984 was at the Neon Art Store here on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo. I made neon patterns and designs to be sandblasted onto mirrors and glass. This was a mirror I made for my parents with our last name on it. My parent’s really liked having things monogrammed.
I designed the heart-shaped leaves poster (available for sale in the right hand column!). It’s hard to see the photo above it, but it’s a photo of some of our best friends at my parents cottage – all celebrating our thirtieth birthdays. It’s got some of our favorite people: Tom & Sandy, Greg, nieces Jamie and Kristy, Laura, Mo, Sue & Bud. It was taken in the way back days when a panoramic photo had to be pieced together by hand.
Top left is a small cask/barrel. It has painted on it “Jim Charlier’s Private Stock.” I’m a Junior, it was my dad’s. It’s been in the family since the ’60s around the bar in the “rec room” at our family house and then used for years as an end table at the lake house. The antique radio on the right I trash-picked back in the ’80s in Buffalo. I even paid a guy to fix it – and at one point it worked. Now only the light does. The tiki head bowls were a tchotchke find of my mother’s. She was good at buying useless and needless items. The oar at the top of the photo I painted with our last name back in the ’70s. It hung at the lake forever. One of my most cherished items, of my father’s, is his shoe shine kit, (farthest left blondish box) from the 1960s. He died about 12 years ago. He worked for UPS and I remember watching him shine his shoes a few times a week when I was small, sometimes I would help. UPS was a stickler for appearance, back then anyway. It still has all the polish, brushes, and wiping cloths. The smell even reminds me of my dad.
The purple thing upper left, and the deformed snowflake were made by my daughter in art class in grade school. The plate in the upper right was some weird photo print my mother made from a photo of the original cottage on the property. Below that is a “treasure map” I made of the lake when I was in high school. The baseball on the upper shelf is signed by Tommy Lasorda. I did a photo shoot with him in the ’80s for Empire Savings Bank, The Big “E”. The green tube next to it in the red dish is the baton my wife used in a Ragnar marathon relay race. She’s run about six of them.
The woode sign on the left was a sign I made in 1978. It had a saying on it my dad used to say all the time, until we were sick of hearing it. There’s a UPS truck on the right, top shelf, like my dad used to drive (only his was actual size). Left of that is a Buffalo State College mug. Both my wife and I went to college there. The little turtle and small cup below it were more daughter ceramic class projects. The two tins are just from old Fossil watches. The tins last longer than the watches. The little wind-up travel clock is the one we would always take camping with us in the late ’60s and early ’70s. The hands holding the bars and rings were from our bathroom of our first house that never really found a home in our current house.
The door came from somewhere in our current house. It sat in the garage fro the first 14 years we lived here. The diamond-patterned window were the attic windows in our 120-year-old house. I didn’t even paint them. I liked the color and patina.
The bench was made from my wife’s mother’s childhood bed which kicked around the basement of various homes for 25 years. The large pickle barrel (foreground as coffee table) was picked up from an estate sale. It has a crack in it so it’s not good for much else.


Mike Gelen, one of the region’s best illustrators, and big-time wise-ass, provided me with a mock-up of this year’s Time magazine cover for “Person of the year,” as well as the first photo of Bernie Sanders and quote.

var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-4802777-3”);

I have a long-time garden blog, a popular garden on America's largest garden tour, and have co-written a book on garden design titled, "Buffalo-Style Gardens: Create a Quirky, One-of-a-Kind Private Garden with Eye-Catching Designs" When I'm not doing all that, I am an advertising designer always out looking to design things to promote your business. Look me up at #jcharlier.

0 comments on “Curating the Taj-ma-shed

  1. Great post Jim. I and 2 of my buddies from our garden club, Botanical Buddies of Chesapeake (VA), attended Buffalo Garden Walk in 2011. We loved it. Your shed is a work of art. I follow you on FB and enjoy all of your posts. Wishing you a blessed Christmas and a wonderful 2017. Vikki in VA.


  2. Thank you Vikki! I hope we can get you to come back for another Garden Walk in the future. Merry Christmas to you as well!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: