A Shady Tale

October is in full swing, and while we may still mourn for those long warm summer evenings, autumn’s colour palette offers us a great consolation. From the deep reds to the rich oranges, the colours have never looked so good.


Up at the plot, fate struck an unhappy blow. Hoping to carry out some autumn chores the other day, I was met with disarray and heartbreak: both my sheds had been broken into, ransacked, and their contents strewn all over the plot.


Apparently, a group of teenagers were on the rampage, wreaking havoc and destruction across the allotment site. Although a couple of gardeners saw them, they didn’t have the nerve to confront them, and who can blame them? It’s unsettling to see such behaviour in a normally safe and peaceful area. However, right or wrong, if they’d have crossed my path, I know I would have taken great delight in removing their plums with my secateurs.

But despite this appalling act of cowardice, oddly enough, I felt relieved. Why? Ever since I took on the plot, I’ve had numerous conversations with fellow plotholders, all telling me the risks of having an allotment, “Don’t leave anything of value in your shed”, “We all get broken into a some point”, “I wouldn’t bother making such an effort, someone’s only going to destroy it”. I was thankful that the only thing they stole was a blunt garden knife. To be honest, I was much more concerned about my winter veg than what they had done to my sheds.

Over the years on the allotment, plotholders have reached for their hoes and forks, waving them angrily above their heads, seeking revenge and justice. On our site, it’s a hotbed of contention: gardeners wanting more security on the allotment, locking gates, not letting any non-plotholders onto the site. But is this the answer? Surely as a ‘growing’ community, we should set an example by keeping our gates open, welcoming people, sharing tips, stories and produce? We need to be better than those who seek to hurt and destroy.


With the plot tidied, and the last of summer’s harvest cleared away from the polytunnel, I thought I’d cheer myself up.

Some weeks ago I watched a feature by Nick Bailey, on BBC2’s Gardeners’ World about plants for shady spots. For many of us with homes that have side access, this area spends most of its days in shade. However, Nick showed that with a collection of ferns, bamboo and begonias, you can easily transform this often-neglected part of the garden.

So, with the wind in my sails, I set about adding a little colour to the narrow alley beside the kitchen which normally houses mops and buckets and little else. Using a combination of Fargesia Bamboo Scabrida ‘Asian Wonder’, Trachelospermum Jasminoides Plant – Star of Toscane, Polystichum polyblepharum, Matteuccia struthiopteris, Athyrium filix-femina – Lady Fern, Asplenium scolopendrium – Hart’s Tongue Fern, and a wonderful Dicksonia antarctica – Hardy Tree Fern, I feel I’ve really transformed this little corner.


I’m delighted with the final result, and I feel I’ve added another room to the garden.


So as I sit and daydream among the bamboo, I’ll carefully sharpen my secateurs… you know, just in case I ever catch the bounders!

 AdeSignature

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6 thoughts on “A Shady Tale

    1. Hi Tony,
      In the UK, allotments are small plots of land which are usually council-owned and rented out to people so they can grow their own food. They’re particularly popular in towns and cities where people might not have a garden of their own. We’ve had ours for nearly four years and we love it. You can read more about the history of British allotments here: https://www.nsalg.org.uk/allotment-info/brief-history-of-allotments/

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for explaining. I thought that it is something like that. I remember there was a vacant parcel in town where a few people maintained vegetable gardens because their home gardens are too shady. Redwoods are very big and very dense.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. While away this weekend I walked around some local allotments. I did wonder at the time about security but from my point of view it was great to see how others do things. Such a pity if a few ruin it for the rest!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done for taking it so well, Ade. I’m touching wood when I say that we don’t seem to have that problem at our allotments – maybe miscreants have rich pickings elsewhere in the neighbourhood or are too preoccupied with stealing scooters and iphones! I love what you’ve done with the alley; I’m going to the RHS autumn show on Wednesday to hear Nick Bailey talk about growing in small spaces. Wondering if I might see you and Sophie at the Tuesday evening launch? (bloggers get press passes!) Caro x

    Liked by 1 person

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