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

September In The Gardens: Harvest And The First Frost

© Copyright David Corfield (one of our kind garden friends and supporters)

If August was a quiet month in the gardens, September saw us all in 'back to school' mode, using precious golden days to harvest, dig, plant, clear and tidy. It's difficult to believe that in the blink of an eye we went from searing heat to the first frosts.

Heritage apple Irish Peach courtesy of © Copyright R V Roger

On 22nd we held our annual Waterfurlong Apple Day and were joined once again by local apple guru, Denis Smith. Despite the miserable weather we explored five more gardens, recorded another 40 old trees and discovered a further seven heritage varieties to add to our list: Calville Blanc d'Hiver, Irish Peach, Margil, Merton Beauty, Mère de Ménage, Northern Greening and Worcester Pearmain. Irish Peach was a particularly intriguing find: this rare and unusual old variety was reputed to have been growing at County Sligo's Longford House as far back as 1500.

The day also gave us a chance to snap more photos for our 'Meet Today's Gardeners' feature:

Top row: Jean-Jacques and Anne; Debbie (with Piper); Carol and John.

Bottom row: Craig; Kate, Michael and Thomas (with Bruno); John and Jean.

Everyone's plots showed signs of this year's bizarre weather conditions. No-one could remember such an early and plentiful apple harvest, but without water to swell them the fruit have been tiny and falling from the trees faster than we can pick them up - much to the joy of the multitudes of drunken wasps. There's not a single late rose and the dahlias are only just getting into their stride. Most striking of all has been the loss of many large tree branches (and several complete trees) when Storm Ali finished off what weeks of water deprivation had started. But we discovered winners as well as losers - outdoor grapevines had revelled in the heat and clambered to the tops of the fruit trees, grape bunches and apples intermingled.

Meanwhile, September saw us overwhelmed with support for our little honesty box table. Our lovely gardeners contributed everything from Victoria plums to Japanese cucumbers, from dahlias to freshly-dug carrots, and our local residents and dog-walkers were generous in their donations and kind in their praise.

Proof that honesty is alive and well in Stamford!

We also supplied hop bines and ivy to local florists Miss Pickering and Quintessentially Wild and helped The Deli Kitchen ('Kelly from the Deli') adorn a feast with leaves and berries.

We have so far raised enough to buy wild daffodil bulbs to brighten up the top lane next spring, obtain materials for a more robust noticeboard and hire a wood-chipper for our gardeners to turn their piles of prunings and hedge-clippings into bark chip and mulch.

Last but not least, if you follow our Dog Of The Day feature, we received this sweet email from clever Maisy after she appeared in it (she was even gracious enough to overlook the fact we misspelled her name):

Re: Dog Of The Day

Thank you for letting my owner know that I was dog of the day on Saturday.......I let her think that I am dog of the day everyday!!! My owner has forwarded details of your lovely website to her friends.

Love and woofs

Maisy x

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