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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May 9, 2019


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 4, 2019

In the cowslip pips I lie,

Hidden from the buzzing fly,

While green grass beneath me lies,

Pearled with dew like fishes' eyes,

Here I lie, a clock-o'-clay,

Waiting for the time o' day.

While the forest quakes surprise,

And the wild wind sobs and sighs,

My home rocks as like to...

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


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 23, 2019

That people around the world find flowers beautiful is unquestionable, but we understand surprisingly little about why this is so. Scientists remain puzzled by phytophilia - the human love of flowers. 

The habitat selection theory prop...

April 16, 2019


'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 &...

April 12, 2019

'I think it is this that draws me to the pond on a night in April, bearing witness. Tadpoles and spores, mosses and peepers - we are all connected by our common understanding of the calls filling the night at the start of spring. It is the wordless voice of longing tha...

April 12, 2019

One of our kind subscribers, John, pointed out that our last article on Matthew Lightfoot featured a photo of what was almost certainly the wrong station. "The image of Stamford station whilst very nice is not I think the station from which our gallant police constable...

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