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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December in the Gardens: Double-digging, Elven Deliveries and Detective-work.


With the short, dark days and the bustle of Christmas, not much gardening tends to happen in December and this winter's heavy rain hasn't helped matters. But there are honourable exceptions. A few gardeners have been valiantly double-digging their plots between downpours and Keith and Bruce have managed to rotavate their whole garden!

Although produce is now thin on the ground, customers have still been stopping by to pick up bundles of apple-wood kindling from our honesty-box stall.

Their generosity enabled Santa's elf to deliver bags of sunflower hearts as a seasonal treat for the Waterfurlong song-birds. We are particularly keen to give a helping hand to our bullfinches - once commonplace in orchards but now in serious decline across the country.

We hope dog-walkers slipping and sliding along the muddy lanes have been cheered by Christmas greetings and wreaths on garden gates.

And have sometimes been lucky enough to catch the delicious, spicy scent of viburnum bodnantense wafting over the hedges - a welcome reminder that spring is not so very far away.

Meanwhile, as fair-weather gardeners we've mostly been curled up indoors poring over the tempting new seed catalogues and immersed in detective work.

The Phillips Room in Stamford Town Hall has yielded a marvellous find - the hand-written memoirs of Victorian Waterfurlong gardener, Thomas Sandall. Transcribing this long account is proving a labour of love, as the author's wonderful copperplate handwriting quickly deteriorates after the first few pages.

We've also had our first meeting with renowned authority on medieval Stamford, Professor Alan Rogers, to discuss researching the lost village of Bradcroft or Bredcroft, on which Waterfurlong now stands. Watch this space!

Finally, we'd like to thank each and every one of The Plot Thickens's readers and subscribers for their interest and support in the six months since we launched the blog and we wish everyone a very:

Copyright © Karen Meadows 2019


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