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Being taken to this gardener’s pleasant shed is no punishment

Walking through the gates of Robin Penrod’s one-acre country-style property near the M Resort, it’s easy to forget that you’re still near Las Vegas. Her six chickens cluck in the front yard as Gregory Peck — her rooster — stands watch. As we walk past her husband, Sam’s, vintage Ford Model A, her English bulldog mix Fenrir and terrier mix Odie chase the chickens, much to the flock’s dismay.

Penrod, 61, has always had a green thumb. “I’ve just always loved nature and plants, and being outside,” Penrod says. She grows a variety of edible and nonedible plants, including lemons, artichokes, squashes, flowers, and cactuses.

The root of her growing operation is her 10-by-10 workshed, which she and Sam built themselves five years ago. The shed, which is solar-powered, feels more like a cathedral, with its windows of repurposed French doors and a soaring, 18-foot galvanized-steel ceiling. Besides her succulents and cactuses, her workspace is lined with trinkets and objects that help her personal ecosystem thrive. 


1   French Doors  “These doors were the whole start of it,” she says. They came from a friend’s barn down the street. When he moved, she offered to buy the doors, but he gave them to her instead. “I thought, What can we make out of ’em, and that’s when we thought, Hey, let’s make a greenhouse with them.” The doors allow the plants their needed dose of sunlight and can be propped open for airflow.

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2   Concrete Gardens  “I love making little gardens like this,” Penrod says. She occasionally plants succulents in homemade concrete pots lined with color-coordinated stones as gifts.

3   Watering Pots Although these butterfly and elephant watering pots serve more as decorations, the wood rack they hang on holds a more sentimental value. Some 25 years ago, Penrod’s daughters Jessica and Kelsey — both in their 30s now — painted their thumbprints on it. “It’s really sweet to see their little thumbprints on there,” she says. Jessica eventually cofounded Great Basin Permaculture, a nonprofit group that educates people about sustainable gardening in the Mojave Desert.

4   Vents Innovative design touch lets rising hot air escape.

5   Artifact This ancient grinding stone was found by her mother in the desert decades ago. It was her mother, in fact, who spurred Penrod’s love for gardening and collecting objects from the desert. “She’s somebody who would drag things home and make things ... so she’s kind of my inspiration,” Penrod says.

6   Seed Collection Among her stockpile are white pumpkin, Moapa squash, and four-o’clock flower seeds. And March is a good time to do something with them. “Pretty soon I’ll be potting some of these up,” Penrod says. 

7   Possible Future Windchimes One man’s trash is another woman’s art. Penrod and her husband found these rusty barrel hoops while off-roading in the desert. She thinks she could repurpose them into a wind chime, but she isn’t sure yet. “Sometimes it takes awhile for inspiration to figure out, What can I do with that?”

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