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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


It's been another great week, with lovely weather and continuing success with our honesty box table. Thanks to so many gardeners' generosity donating surplus produce we have made the grand total of £150.08 in less than three weeks! This includes £40 from selling hop bines growing in Simon's hedge to local florists Miss Pickering and Quintessentially Wild. Jennie from Quintessentially Wild has even placed an order for three bags of ivy - it really is a case of one man's trash being another man's treasure.

We have used £52.99 of the proceeds to order 250 wild daffodil bulbs to plant in the verges along the top lane, to brighten up this public footpath for everyone who uses it. These are a native, shade-tolerant variety (narcissus lobularis) that should multiply over the years.

Meanwhile, Doug (Plot 12) has been liaising with New College, Stamford, whose carpentry students are going to make us a smart, new weather-proof noticeboard! The temporary board Rob (Plot 13) kindly made us earlier in the year has proved invaluable but it's going to struggle to withstand the rigours of the winter weather. New College is only going to charge us for the materials and we are currently awaiting costings. The photo below shows the type of thing they are building, although it is likely to have doors that open outwards rather than upwards:

The honesty box table has been attracting some lovely comments (and useful publicity) from local residents on social media:

So far (touch wood) people have proved to be scrupulously honest! We loved this little note:


We managed to catch a couple of great shots of Graham chatting over his garden wall this week! He is now Instagram famous 😀


Less good news ... unfortunately Helena has discovered honey fungus growing on an old elder tree. As you may know, this can cause devastation to many trees and shrubs, so keep a look out for it and take action if you find it - there are lots of online resources. If anyone needs help with identification, have a word with George Earl on Burghley plot 8, who we're sure will be happy to oblige.


Last but not least, don't forget it's Waterfurlong Apple Day next Saturday - we're gathering at Plot 15 at 12 noon, where you can enjoy some cake and mulled cider before setting off to identify trees. Our apple guru, Denis Smith, will again be leading the day. The plots we're scheduled to visit are:

Burghley Plot 3 - Soraya, Jean-Jacques and Anne

Burghley Plot 8 - George and Lesley

Burghley Plot 9 - Graham and Suzanne

Cecil Estate Plot 3 - Andy

Cecil Estate Plot 9 - George

Cecil Estate Plot 25 - Amanda and Richard

Cecil Estate Plot 26 - Anne and Michael

Cecil Estate Plot 35 - Kate

If there's anyone we've missed off, please do let us know! There are a further 13 uninvestigated plots which we believe have old trees - if you know the owner of any of the following and are able to persuade them to allow Denis to map their trees for Natural England it would be hugely appreciated:

Cecil Estate plots: 8 (counter-intuitively at the end of the bottom lane), 10, 11, 18, 19, 20, 23, 24, 29, 37, 38, 39, 40.

Many thanks and look forward to seeing you next Saturday.

Karen and Julia


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