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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

The Waterfurlong Horse Chestnuts

This magical, painterly photograph was taken back in May 2003 by Waterfurlong gardener Huw of his little nephew Fred running down the lane through the fallen horse chestnut blossoms.

We've recently discovered that the trees lining the west side of Waterfurlong were planted in 1908 and 1909 as part of an initiative to beautify the town by Tom Sandall and the then mayor, Thomas Duncomb. Tom Sandall wrote the following letter to the editor of the Stamford Guardian:


Sir, - You were good enough as to state in your issue last week that some 300 more trees had been given for planting upon the road sides near Stamford this season. I have only to add that the ready response I received to applications when made was doubtless to some extent due to your courtesy in publishing the appeal I made in a letter of 18th November last which you inserted at that time.

The scheme appeared to meet with general approval. The list of subscribers this year numbers over 80 and last season there were 37 so that 120 donors have taken part in the presentation of the 600 trees being planted in 1908 and 1909. These donors may rest assured that future generations will appreciate the improving appearance which these trees will year by year give to the approaches to our town. That the donors’ names may not be forgotten I am copying the 120 names upon parchment leaves and intend inserting them as an appendix in one of the several Stamford Histories in the Phillips collection of Stamford Books and Pamphlets (if there is no objection to my so doing) which is at the Town Hall. It might interest the Stamfordians of 50 or 100 years hence to learn that their grandfathers or great grandfathers took part in what is now being done.

I am Sir,

Yours truly


Rusholme Lodge


17th February 1909

The Corporation paid for the planting of the saplings and Mr Duncomb for wire-netting to protect them.