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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March 4, 2019

THOMAS LAXTON DEFENDS ENTREPRENEURIAL WATERFURLONG

RUBBISH CLEARER

Before setting up his famous Bedford nursery business, Waterfurlong gardener Thomas Laxton spent many years as a Stamford solicitor and barrister, working from his chambers in St Mary's Hill. In Mar...

February 25, 2019

Stamford Millstream 1900. The buildings were later demolished to create Bath Row car park.

Waterfurlong's lowest lane of gardens is bordered by Stamford Millstream. I can just about remember a time when the water flowed and kingfishers darted along the banks, and now a...

February 16, 2019

'OLD JOHN' OF BARNACK WAS BURIED

16th February 1881 saw the burial of John Avery, a retired member of the Burghley gardening team who remained active to the last. Working under head gardener Richard Gilbert, 'Old John' had been involved in developing and trialling apple...

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 31, 2018

TOM SANDALL CONTEMPLATES GIVING UP HIS BELOVED GARDEN

As this centenary year draws to a close, it is poignant to read about the Great War's impact on one of our older gardeners, waiting at home for news from France and facing a difficult decision of his own ......

December 24, 2018

MISTRESS ANDREWS DIED, BAKER OF THE WOTHORPE CHEESECAKE 

Many of our Waterfurlong fruit trees were supplied by Messrs W & J Brown, whose extensive nursery grounds lay on the other side of Tinwell Road where Exeter Gardens now stands. Brown's main base was at Wothorpe, w...

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 5, 2018

A LUCKY ESCAPE FOR CATTLE-RUSTLING CLERICS

Modern day Waterfurlong sits on the long-abandoned site of the medieval hamlet of Bradcroft or Bredcroft. One of Bradcroft's functions was making bread for the townspeople of Stamford; another was housing the Rutland court. The...

November 19, 2018

 RAMPAGERS IN 'BEASTLY STATE OF INTOXICATION'

Police Sergeant John Harrison was one of Waterfurlong's longest-standing and most dedicated Victorian gardeners and whenever trouble brewed (on or off the plots) he seemed to be at the ready with handcuffs and truncheon....

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