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 30, 2018

                                                                 Photograph © Copyright Jenney Disimon

This we...

July 27, 2018

After two months of drought Waterfurlong has finally experienced a welcome deluge, bringing with it one of the most delicious of all garden scents - rain on parched earth.

You’ve probably come across the name for this -petrichor -  derived from the ancient Greek...

July 24, 2018


High summer is our quietest time for birdsong and during this last week in July even the blackbirds and song thrushes stop singing. The silence is deceptive though, as bird populations are actually at their highest; the birds are just trying to...

July 20, 2018

Lane's Prince Albert is one of the definitive English cooking apples and it grows in three of our gardens. The famous Victorian pomologist Dr Hogg rated it 'a marvellous bearer, [which] rarely fails to produce a crop'(1).

The original tree grew in the front garden of a...

July 15, 2018


As we face the challenge of another weekend of drought, let’s look back to this day in 1880, when Stamford endured extreme weather of the opposite kind and one of our gardeners nearly lost his livelihood.

It had...

July 9, 2018

When we took on our garden three years ago, decades of neglect had left it as overgrown and impenetrable as Sleeping Beauty’s castle. For passers-by there was nothing to see beyond the scruffy gate wedged into a tall, tangled thicket.

Once we fought our way in, we disco...

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