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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

This Week Around The Plots

What a fantastic week it's been at the gardens, weatherwise and otherwise.


On Bank Holiday Monday we launched our honesty box table. As we set up the table (kindly donated by Andrea and Alex, Plot 12) we had no idea whether people would buy or whether gardeners would contribute, particularly as it's a meagre year for so many crops. We needn't have worried. There's been all-round generosity and in 8 days we have made £50.48! The best sellers have been plums, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and Simon's crunchy red Lady Sudeley eating apples. So many dog-walkers have stopped us to say they love the scheme and our first, modest attempts to restore Waterfurlong to its former glory and are now bringing cash out with them on their walks. One even asked if we run a Riverford Organic-type vegetable box scheme!

On Sunday evening the stall was evidently noticed by local florist Miss Pickering, who gave us a mention on her popular Instagram page:

So, a big 'thank you' to all the gardeners who have so far contributed: Alex, Andrea & Doug (Plot 12), Liz and Debbie (Plot 14), Simon (Plot 22), John (Plot 7), Helena (Plot 4), Craig (Plot 33), Graham (Burghley Plot 9) and George and Lesley (Burghley Plot 8). If you have any spare produce it would be most gratefully received.

This month's takings will be used to buy native daffodil bulbs and ferns to brighten up the top lane for dog-walkers. Everyone who has contributed produce will then be invited to vote on our next goal - ideas so far have included buying a glass-fronted noticeboard, getting a skip and hiring a wood-chipper.



Take a wander down the top lane if you haven't done so for a while and just look at what Andrea, Alex and Doug have achieved with the front of their plot! They have so generously supplied the bench weary dog-walkers said they would value and this weekend saw Andrea and Doug beautifying the spot by creating a magical little fernery. Their next challenge is finding new fencing panels to replace the hotch-potch they inherited - if you know of anyone who's taking down a fence or you spot some panels in a skip, please call Andrea on 07791 525874‬.

Meanwhile, we've lost count of the number of walkers who have exclaimed at the smart new coat of British Racing Green on Plot 14's gate - Liz managed to squeeze in some painting before she and James set off on their summer travels. All these efforts, large and small, are being received with much pleasure and appreciation by local residents.

Now the weather's cooled down, Helena too can be found digging out glass and rusty metal and planting wild flowers at the front of her plot and (unlike the rest of us) looking like she's stepped out of a bandbox whilst doing it! Just look at that snazzy gardening pinny:



I received a lovely message last week from Georgie Fenn, Editor of Stamford and Rutland Pride magazines. To cut a long story short, Georgie had stumbled upon our website and has asked me to write a feature article on our Victorian Waterfurlong gardeners for the Pride magazines' November edition. I'm really hoping it will lead to local residents contacting us with photographs and memories of the gardens.



When we launched 'Dog of the Day' on the website and Instagram page, we thought it could be a sweet little feature. Little did we know how fiercely competitive it would become! It's fast evolving into the Stamford canine community's equivalent of Hello magazine - there's a long waiting list and much jostling to appear ahead of doggy rivals. Nonetheless, if you have a favourite dog you'd like to see featured, message us and we'll arrange a photoshoot.

Here's Julia interviewing local dog-walker, David Corfield's, little border collie, Tess, at Helena's 'Open House in the Garden' last month.



We've had some wonderful highs this week, but it's not been without its low points, usually in the form of litter. Julia and I have been clearing the hedge at the front of our plot and have dug out 35 decomposing dog poo bags. Ugh. On Sunday someone fly-tipped a builders' bag of rotting waste by the entrance to the top lane, which fortunately the kindly bin-man put onto his van, nobly helped by local dog-walker Tom Nottidge. Fly-tippers have also been at work again in the middle lane, where a load of rusty metal has been piled onto an already unsightly mound of junk.

If you see anyone leaving dog poo on the ground, flinging poo bags into gardens or hedges, fly-tipping, or engaging in any other form of antisocial behaviour that spoils Waterfurlong and/or presents health risks to humans, companion pets or wildlife, do please challenge them or at least note the time and date and take photos. Liz (Plot 14) has kindly attached a supply of doggy bags to the noticeboard for walkers who forget theirs.


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