The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

How do people feel about ugly allotments?

I have to say, it’s a real issue for me, and I know that’s unfair, but when I see that some people can manage to create an allotment that is both highly productive and still attractive, or even downright beautiful, and others just seem to create dumping grounds with the same space, soil and opportunities, I get very prejudiced against the ugly ones! Not because I think I'm some kind of style diva, but because it takes so little to make an allotment look good, and plants like nasturtiums which look amazing also have food value so it's not a food or frills scenario.

I’ve been trying to work out what might be the different mindsets that produce the two kinds of growing space and I think it could possibly be that those with pretty allotments think of their green space as an extension of their home, while those who have unattractive plots just view them as a factory for producing food. In other words, the lovely allotments are tenanted by Willy Wonka types while the unlovely ones are home to the kind of people who created Blake’s dark satanic mills! Perhaps it simply does come down to temperament. I would love to say that ugly plots are run by ugly-minded people and vice versa but one of the loveliest plots I know is run by a truly argumentative and unpleasant chap, while a really ugly plot is home to the sweetest lady you could ever hope to meet!

While I do think allotments have to be productive, it’s always been important to me that the plot looks good too – of course we’ve always been co-workers or plot managers until now so it’s also been part of the ‘job’ to make sure that the actual plot tenant or management committee saw that we were doing a good job, but plot 103 is our own plot at last, and I suppose I could make it as ugly as I liked. It certainly doesn’t look very pretty right now ….

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Anonymous Jono said...

I think the extension of their home is a good point. I see mine as kind of an opportunity to express myself, that I don't normally get.

I also think some people don't necessarily realise how much work is involved in getting a plot tip top.

January 26, 2011 at 5:03 AM  
Anonymous Luke said...

Or it could be those with pretty plots have the time & money and those with purely functional ones have hectic family/home life and only just manage to keep the weeds at bay!

January 26, 2011 at 6:26 AM  
Blogger Joanna said...

I wouldn't say mine is ugly but more unkempt than my neighbours - then again they have more time than I have and I use the weeds as mulch. Honest! This does have a point as the last three seasons we have been growing things we have had a dry spell at some stage with quite a bit of wind, so keeping on top of the weeds but keeping the ground covered so as to not lose too much moisture and still stay sane at the end of it all means using the weeds as mulch.

I also don't like to see a lot of bare earth as I don't think this is good for the soil - except at the beginning of the season that is.

January 26, 2011 at 8:49 AM  
Anonymous allotments4you said...

I have seen many pretty plots in my time and although they look great I don't think I would class mine in the 'pretty' category. I have made it nice and neat but there is a lot of bare earth throughout the winter though it is well dug. I have tried to make it low maintenance but with appeal...I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder but my plot is functional and I think I have made some eye catching features and I am very happy with my achievements but i do understand what you are talking about...I think I would class mine as 'semi-pretty'!! but highly functional!!

January 26, 2011 at 12:45 PM  
Blogger Z said...

I think vegetables look lovely - not sure what you mean by ugly? If I had a small flower garden, I'd probably just use an allotment for vegetables, but if I had no garden at all, I'd grow flowers on my allotment as well as the veg.

January 26, 2011 at 1:32 PM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Jono, that's a good point.

uike - you could be right, but it doesn't take long to scatter some annual flower seed or whatever, and functional can be attractive too.

Joanna, I think that looks fine.

Tanya - I agree that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but surely some people have wonky eyes!

Z - I think vegetables look beautiful too, it's the plots that look like rubbish heaps that upset me.

January 31, 2011 at 4:43 AM  

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