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.

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October In The Gardens: Apples Everywhere!

November 2, 2018

 

October is always a busy gardening month, with much to do before the winter weather sets in. This year it's been a race against time with temperatures plummeting thirty 

degrees in six weeks. The apple harvest has been early and just gathering the windfalls can take hours a day after a blustery spell.

 

Fortunately, our honesty box stall has proved a great outlet for the surplus and our lovely local residents and walkers seem to enjoy the heritage varieties we've been 

able to offer, from tart Nelson's Codlin cookers, through aromatic dual-purpose Blenheim Orange, to the crisp sweetness of Belle de Boskoop eaters. 

 

We invested some of the proceeds in hiring a wood-chipper for a week - a huge, noisy beast of a machine that gobbled up piles of old prunings at an unbelievably fast rate. Several of us now have generous mounds of chipped bark that we can mulch down over the winter or put to immediate use in pathbuilding. Here's Julia in action.

 

 

You can probably spot the rosehips in the hedge behind her - they have been so gorgeously abundant this autumn. 

 

 

On the produce front it's been a great late season for tomatoes, still ripening on the vine right up to this week's hard frosts. This was Liz's recent haul.

 

 

And you might have read the recent post about our newest Waterfurlong crop - saffron! Year one of Huw's experiment has proved surprisingly successful given our rich heavy 

soil. 

 

 

Last, but not least, we've said a fond farewell to gardener Andy, who worked his plot for an incredible 56 years, and warmly welcome his successors Bruce and Keith.

 

 

Andy left his plot as he kept it - in apple pie order, but Bruce and Keith's exploration of the ditch behind it has revealed some interesting finds! This poster now has a new home on Bruce's daughter's bedroom wall.

 

 

How much shorter the gardening day feels since the clocks went back. By 4.30 the sun has set and we head home, rustling through the crisp piles of horse-chestnut leaves covering Waterfurlong, captured here by friend of the gardens, David Corfield. 

 

 

Copyright © Karen Meadows 2018

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