Finding inspiration is really important to keep my motivation going – allotmenteering can be lonely, something of a slog and even on a big site like ours familiarity can breed similarity. Watching t’telly and scouring the internet is all very well, but my eyes suffer (ye gods that makes me sound ancient!), you rarely get the detail and you definitely can’t have a proper furtle to see how something is grown/tied in/built. It doesn’t have to be a snazzy, professionally maintained space either. As my long-suffering family well know, if there is an allotment site anywhere near where we are, I am off for a meandering look-see & poke-about. With a camera.
Being a stone’s throw away from Hampton Court Palace means I can get to the fantastic kitchen garden fairly often. From my visits there I am pinching a new way of growing outdoor tomatoes for 2017, which looks interesting as well as making good use of space. I think you initially train them up the lower part of the ‘X’ and then move them back out along the upper half as they grow taller.
Visiting Michelle’s site in High Wycombe, which is vastly different to mine, is always great. Set next to open common land, on a flint seam and with a ban on structures over 5ft, its tenants have a very different style of growing. It’s all very low-rise, compared to our place. There are no fences or hedges, hardly any wooden-edged raised beds, barely any trees and windbreaks are mostly living walls of runner beans. Their flower displays are absolutely cracking, and from that I’m starting a proper cut-flower bed next season on #92. Something of a change for someone who said flaaaahs had little or no place on her allotment…
This year I treated myself to RHS membership. Wisley’s just down the A3 from here and I thought it would be good for a regular mosey. And it’s been brilliant. The best bits for me this year (other than meeting up with Kathryn who writes A Little Bit of Sunshine) have been Wisley’s trained fruit field and the trials field – specifically the cosmos trial. Metres and metres of varieties. Not all pink either.
I really loved cosmos sulphureus with its hot colours. I’d seen some at the Hampton Court Flower Show (and bought seeds) and it was great to see a range of colours. Of all the cosmos on show, these were my favourites:
Above top row: Cosmos sulphureus Cosmic Red and Brightness Red. Bottom row: Cosmos bipinnatus Cupcakes White (fused single petal) and, embarrassingly, Cosmos ‘I haven’t a clue because I forgot to take a shot of the blessed label!’. Possibly Sonata or Purity? It’s pretty though.
The flowers left and below are cosmos bipinnatus too, but much more fluffy. Left is Double Click Cranberries at Wisley and below is ‘Double Click Snow Puff’ on the allotment – hugely prolific, crawling with happy bees and gorgeous delicate petals. I grew 3 this year and they kept the flat in blooms for months. This was taken at the end of the day, bathed in allotment twilight.
Now it’s properly winter I can break out my graph paper and start planning the next season. After all, it’s only a short 4 weeks before the propagator is dusted off and the first new seeds for 2017 go in. Any other tips for open kitchen gardens worth visiting would also be very welcome…
Categories: Diary 2016