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.

On reaching the garden gate, it is tantalising to wonder who was opening it 50 years ago, 150 years ago, possibly even 250 years ago ... Who planted the old apple trees? Who trimmed the hedges and dug the vegetable patch? Who drank lemonade in the summerhouse and played on the swing? 

 

Follow our quest to discover our gardening forebears, 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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July 12, 2019

 Rosa Dorothy Perkins - a favourite of Stamford nurseryman James Brown

THE LOST ROSE 'BEAUTY OF STAMFORD'

Our most famous Victorian Waterfurlong gardener, Thomas Laxton, is still known for the peas, strawberries and apples he introduced, but one of his forgotten hor...

June 3, 2019

Although summer is my favourite season, I feel a twinge of sadness when lovely May comes to an end. It will be another year before the world is as green, lush and full of birdsong again and I'm always reminded of Gerard Manley Hopkins's line 'After-comers cannot g...

April 1, 2019

Our cover-girl for March is 'Hanging On', so named by Jude and Flora after mum Jo rescued the poor little hen and her friend 'Tough Guy' from the hell of a battery farm. The new arrivals are beginning to gain the confidence to explore Jo's lovely garden, but need the p...

February 28, 2019

It's hard to believe that for most of February 2018 Waterfurlong lay under a thick blanket of snow - the little Elka daffodils now in full bloom didn't flower until mid April last year.  Not surprisingly, for the past few days the gardens have been a hive of activity ,...

February 1, 2019

If last January the gardens were unworkable because of snow, this January the problem's been mud - thick, clogging, mud. So, for those of us who haven't escaped to warmer climes like Cuba and India (no hint of envy in my tone!) it's generally been an indoors kind of mo...

January 3, 2019

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...

December 28, 2018

It's time to sow early broad beans if you haven't yet got round to it. This year mine are coming on nicely (fingers crossed) in the potting shed, in stark contrast to last when mice feasted on every seed I lovingly planted outdoors in the December snow!...

December 21, 2018

 Photograph kind courtesy of Alan Buckingham © All rights reserved.

'I love the crackle of winter. The snap of dry twigs underfoot, boots crunching on frozen grass, a fire spitting in the hearth, ice thawing on a pond. The innate crispness of the season appeals to me, l...

December 17, 2018

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...

December 10, 2018

To-day I think
Only with scents, - scents dead leaves yield,
And bracken, and wild carrot's seed,
And the square mustard field;

Odours that rise
When the spade wounds the root of tree,
Rose, currant, raspberry, or goutweed,
Rhubarb or celery;

The smoke's smell, too,
...

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