Allotment duties: from author to labourer in 24 hours

I spent the whole of Tuesday in a pair of cotton gloves, pointing at things, so that my beautiful manicure (nail colour was called Black Cherry Chutney, how apt!) wouldn’t get ruined. By the evening, when I got into my vintage dress and green flowery shoes, I was a nervous wreck.

I needn’t have worried – 72 wonderful people turned up, ate chutney, drank wine, wrote limericks, created vegetable portraits and laughed at the funny bit I read aloud. Then they enjoyed my mother’s fabulous apple cake, cleaned up after themselves and went home, allowing me to collapse in a heap.

On Wednesday, fortified by the idea that I really am an author now, and with the photos from West Dean’s kitchen garden in my camera for reference purposes, I decided to tackle the gnarly old fuchsia on plot #103. It’s a beautiful tree, but it should be a shrub. It’s also old and has crossing branches and generally needs to be given a chance to grow again.

West Dean has a marvellous kitchen garden, where there are many examples of tree pruning (mainly fruit trees, of course) to whet the appetite of a secateur-wielding novice. I particularly liked the pyramidal form, but our fuchsia has already been shaped to be a bit more like a cordon so that was the direction I had to take.

I was worried about doing it now, but my choice is now or wait a whole summer, so I decided that the tree had to be more serviceable as it shades nearly a third of the allotment in its current state and that can’t be allowed. My confidence was also boosted by having seen the 150 year old fig at West Dean which had also been neglected and has now been brought back into a productive and attractive form by clever pruning. I took out some height and width and several of the crossing branches to open the centre of the plant out and prevent further congestion – I also removed three dead branches that were covered in lichen, and took out some base shoots that had obviously emerged last year but hadn’t been seen because the undergrowth around them was so jungly.

So with my manicure in tatters, my face and arms scratched by branches and my legs torn to shreds by brambles, I stood back and reflected on my somewhat improved fuchsia … only to see somebody who had been at the launch walk past and totally fail to recognise this scarecrow of a woman as the well-groomed author they’d spoken to the day before!

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Thursday, March 24, 2011


Blogger Paul and Melanie said...

Congrats on the book launch :) sounds like you've had a good week! :)

March 24, 2011 at 6:14 AM  
Anonymous allotments4you said...

So glad the book launch went well for you, as for not being recognised...that can only be a least it means you can always have peace when you want it!

March 25, 2011 at 2:48 PM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Thanks Paul and Melanie - yes it's been grand!

Tanya, if only that were true. Everybody remembers me as allotment secretary although it's over a year since I stepped down, so I get recognised for all the wrong reasons ...

March 28, 2011 at 9:18 AM  

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