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...

July 2, 2019

Rosa Madame Alfred Carrière

Despite June's drenching rain, it's been a wonderful summer for roses here. Our gardeners grow many different types - wander along the Waterfurlong lanes and you might spot lovely old ramblers like Albertine and Madame Alfred Carrière scrambl...

June 17, 2019

'There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.'

                                              Mirabel Osler...

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...

May 26, 2019

THE DELIGHTS OF PARIS, A WEDDING, FIVE CHRISTENINGS,

AND SETTLING DOWN IN STAMFORD

Paris in the 1860s

1863

In 1863 I went for my holiday with my father & Mrs S No 2(TS's stepmother) to the Lake District - Windermere &c and had a very enjoyable trip, so much so that I made...

May 19, 2019

ST MARTIN'S VET ROBERT JAMES EXPOSED AS A FRAUD

You might remember our post last year about John Swan, the Waterfurlong gardener and veterinary surgeon whose Wharf Road premises were devastated by Stamford's great flood of July 1880. A correspondent on ancestry.com rece...

May 9, 2019

"YOU ARE A WHORE AND A BUNTER AND YOU KEEP A FANCY-MAN!" ​

Victorian Waterfurlong gardener Edward Winterton grew up in one of Stamford's notorious slum courts - Protection Yard off Scotgate. He somehow managed to secure an apprenticeship as a carver and gilder, (probabl...

May 1, 2019

At last the gardening year proper is here and April has seen a frenzy of activity in Waterfurlong - potatoes put in, lawns mown, sweet peas planted out, and the month began with gardener Jo's cunning April Fool's joke, which tricked nearly everyone!

What a luxury i...

April 29, 2019

OUT INTO THE WIDE WORLD AND BACK AGAIN

Aylesbury Old Bank - Tom Sandall's annotation showing his room

Tom Sandall was born 180 years ago today. In this extract from his journal he starts his banking career in Oxfordshire, celebrates the end of the Crimean War and propose...

April 16, 2019

A VERY DOCILE AND WELL CONDUCTED YOUTH

'My father was born in the small village of Rippingale of respectable parents, his father being a small farmer, but showing great perseverance and industry, his father bestowed upon him a little better Education than his brothers &...

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