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.
What better apple to feature in December than local delicacy Allington Pippin, saved as a Christmas treat in bygone years because of the distinct pineapple or fruit-drop flavour it develops when stored?
Despite its comparative rarity nowadays, many Allington Pippin trees still grow in Waterfurlong. It was raised by Stamford solicitor and horticulturalist Thomas Laxton in 1884 by crossing Cox's Orange Pippin with King of the Pippins. Local nurserymen W & J Brown (whose nursery grounds were just across the road from Waterfurlong on what is now Exeter Gardens) exhibited the variety at the Royal Horticultural Society in 1889 under its original name of South Lincoln Beauty, but the breeding rights were bought by George Bunyard of the famous Allington Nursery near Maidstone in Kent, who renamed the apple Allington Pippin.
The fruit is crunchy and aromatic and has a distinctive conical shape and red and orange skin with some russeting. It is best gathered towards the end of October and can be used as a cooking apple when first picked, but it is only after a couple of months' storage that Allington Pippin develops the unique flavour beloved of connoisseurs.