It seems appropriate that the garden allotments pictured here lie in the shadow of an Anglo-Saxon church dating from the seventh century. It was during Saxon times that the parcelling of land began.
Of course, over the centuries there were many changes and the present system has its roots in the nineteenth century when land was given to the labouring poor. Provision was gradually extended and at the end of World War I land was made available for all. A statutory obligation was placed on Local Authorities to provide allotments wherever need arose.
The demand has inevitably been greatest in war years and in times of economic difficulty. In 1944, encouraged by the Government’s Dig for Victory campaign, the number of allotments was estimated to be 1.75 million. By 1970 the number had fallen to 532,000, partly because of the pressure to find land for building, partly due to the advent of supermarkets, and partly to other social changes.
In recent years there has been a revival of interest fuelled not only by economic problems but also by a growing demand for fresh food. Virtually all Local Authorities report a sizeable waiting list for available plots.
The site pictured has approximately 100 plots, most of which are in an advanced stage of clearing and preparation for the new season.
A feature of allotment sites is the camaraderie and community spirit. For some the ‘shed’ is more than just a place where tools are kept.
For lovers of colour and texture in the garden there are few more rewarding shrubs than the cotinus. Throughout the summer and early autumn it bears foliage that is first a deep purply red, becoming redder later. As autumn progresses skeletal patterns appear (as can be seen in the first picture below) then, gradually, the rich colour drains, leaving behind a myriad of delightful pastel shades.
These two photos are from the same shrub and were taken a few days ago, within a minute of each other. The first is of the top growth, exposed to the sun.
The second is from the lower shaded branches. Unless there is a severe frost the upper growth too will adopt a similar colour range during the coming weeks.
This view of our garden was taken through a rear window of the house – hence the interference of reflections in places and a consequent softening of the focus. But, in particular, I wanted to capture the impact of the few vibrant splashes of red. The poppies add a ‘zing’ to the scene.
But stay a little longer with an individual flower. Marvel at the pattern at the heart of the flower.
Notice the nuances of colour as the petals reflect the sunlight.