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The Plot Thickens

Hi, I’m Karen Meadows. Thank you for visiting The Plot Thickens.

I’m lucky enough to be the tenant of one of fifty large allotment gardens in the middle of the small and beautiful stone town of Stamford in England’s East Midlands. The gardens were first created by Brownlow Cecil, 4th Marquess of Exeter in the mid 1800s and their layout has remained virtually unchanged. Between the plots we have some 200 old apple trees, many of them rare varieties, and in 2017 Natural England awarded the gardens heritage orchard status.

Over the centuries at least 500 people have worked these plots. Follow our quest to discover who they were, what they grew, and what shenanigans they got up to. Be prepared for numerous diversions and musings along the way about gardening life here in our quiet (and occasionally not so quiet) little corner of Stamford.

If you haven’t discovered our website yet, do head over to Waterfurlong Orchard Gardens, where you will find a wealth of information about our gardens and gardeners, past and present.

And now for the small print...

The Plot Thickens is a non-commercial blog. All recommendations are based on personal preference and my own or our other gardeners’ own experience. Payments or free goods are not accepted in return for reviews of products and services. If an exception is made this will be clearly stated.

All words and images, unless otherwise credited, are my own. If you would like to copy text or images, I’d kindly ask that The Plot Thickens gets a positive mention and a link back to this blog.

Recent Posts

Weather Without Technology

Photograph © scholty1970 courtesy of Pixabay

If you're unimpressed with the Met Office's track record and want to know whether to lift your dahlias this autumn or prepare for another drought next summer, meet David King of Weather Without Technology.

Kent-based, retired PC David has devoted the last fifty years to studying nature's pointers to what the weather has in store: 'This includes the arrival and departure dates of birds, ducks and geese, the flowering times of bush and tree blossoms, the flowering times of certain wild plants; the proliferation or otherwise of insects, bees, wasps and butterflies and the actions of certain wild animals, deer, foxes, badgers, rabbits etc.' David also takes into accountlong-known phenomena such as April's Blackthorn Winter, the Ice-Maidens of May and St Luke's and St Martin's 'little summers' in mid-autumn.

So, after one of the most extreme years on record weatherwise, what does David forecast for this autumn? Well, it's good news. 'Nature has made no provision at all for a very cold autumn. We can expect dry, quite pleasant, benign weather, with frost at the end of October and no major storms.'


A calm, dry, pleasant month. Light, intermittent rain in the first half will be followed by windy weather around the equinox (21st) and then a period of calm with good weather to assist a late harvest.


The fair and benign autumn will continue, with no storms and a dry, sunny period around St Luke's Day (18th). Therefore a near-perfect, true Indian summer, followed by more fine daytime weather, albeit with night frosts to end the month.

'So nature repairs and compensates for the earlier problems and havoc caused in June and July.'


Yet another month of calm, benign weather, good for

November by any standard. The middle of the month will be dry, sunny and fair. Such weather will bring autumnal fogs to start each day and cold nights to end the month, but no real rain or storms of any consequence.

David predicts an equally easy winter. 'Go out and see just what nature has stored up for the winter... While there are plentiful seeds, nuts and berries to compensate the birds now for the lack of insects this summer, there are precious few crab apples about; therefore no real provision at all for a long hard winter.'

He forecasts little snow for most of us, although some hard frosts 'especially in February (the simple reason for this being that the hottest days in June give the coldest corresponding days in the following February, and June 2018 was exceptionally hot) – therefore February will have some very cold nights – but also dry sunny days.'

Visit David's site to follow his monthly predictions and longer-term forecasts and to learn about the importance of the wind direction on Michaelmas Day, Buchan cold periods and the significance of the cuckoo leaving early!

David also has a book, Weather Without Technology, available from his site or via Amazon.

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