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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February 12, 2020

If you walked down to the bottom of Waterfurlong, crossed the Millstream and looked over to the east in the summer of 1881, this is the tranquil view that would have greeted you. In the distance you can see a windmill, a row of Lombardy poplars and, beyond them, the sp...

February 3, 2020

Last summer, proceeds from the honesty box stall enabled us to send samples from seven heritage Waterfurlong apple trees for DNA testing. We asked our visiting apple guru, Denis Smith, to select the specimens that most intrigued or baffled him. After months of waiting,...

May 22, 2019

The trees are coming into leaf 
Like something almost being said; 
The recent buds relax and spread, 
Their greenness is a kind of grief. 

Is it that they are born again 
And we grow old? No, they die too, 
Their yearly trick of looking new 
Is written down in rings o...

May 12, 2019

This magical, painterly photograph was taken back in May 2003 by Waterfurlong gardener Huw of his little nephew Fred running down the lane through the fallen horse chestnut blossoms.

We've recently discovered that the trees lining the west side of Waterfurlong were plan...

February 19, 2019

The Finns call February ‘Helmikuu’ or ‘month of the pearl’ because droplets of melting snow on trees freeze quickly again, wreathing the branches with ice-pearls.

Our British ancestors were less poetic about the shortest and (despite the current mild spell) of...

February 12, 2019

"You know why trees smell the way they do?" Murphy asked, looking up from her hammering. 

"Sap?" Logan guessed. "Chlorophyll?"

Murphy shook her head. "Stars. Trees breathe in starlight year after year, and it goes deep into their bones. So when you cut a tree open, you s...

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...

December 13, 2018

Beech-wood fires burn bright and clear

If the logs are kept a year;

Store your beech for Christmastide

With new-cut holly laid beside;

Chestnut's only good, they say,

If for years 'tis stored away;

Birch and fir-wood burn too fast

Blaze too bright and do not last;

Flames from...

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