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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

Our Apple For November: Dumelow's Seedling

As you tuck into your first mince-pie of the festive season, you might be interested to learn that acre upon acre of the now almost forgotten Dumelow's Seedling was once grown for the specific purpose of making delectable mincemeat. Not that mincemeat was the variety's only claim to fame, for it was also reputed to be Queen Victoria's favourite baked apple.

It was raised in the late 1700s by Richard Dumeller, a farmer of Shackerstone, near Market Bosworth in Leicestershire; 'Dumelow' was the local pronunciation of his name and the variety was originally introduced as Dumelow's Crab. A tree came to be planted in the gardens of nearby Gopsall Hall, whose owner, Richard Curzon-Howe, seems to have introduced it to the nurseryman Richard Williams (of Williams bon Chrétien pear fame) of Turnham Green near Chiswick.

Dumelow's Crab was a triumph, although its many and various names can make it hard to track through time. Williams presented it to the Royal Horticultural Society under its original name, but in 1819 it was re-christened Wellington, in celebration of the Duke's triumphant return from the Peninsular War. By the 1850s it had acquired its current name of Dumelow's Seedling and become the nation's favourite cooking apple.

The large, irregular fruit has a creamy texture and sharp, fragrant flavour that produces a much nicer baked apple than the now ubiquitous Bramley. It is also a good keeper; in fact in northern England it was sometimes called the May Day apple because of its unusually long storage life.

The tree is large and spreading with attractive blossom. It is more frost-resistant than Bramley, but does have a tendency to bear heavy crops only every other year - probably the cause of its eventual commercial downfall.

Photograph courtesy of © Melbourne Mermaid via Flickr

Copyright © Karen Meadows 2018

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