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.
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.