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Plot 47 - My Little Piece of Heaven by Heather Ward

Updated: May 11, 2023

I remember my Grandmother’s garden. She loved her roses and they, along with other flowers, lined the main area of her back garden in Haringey. Off to the side, at the back of the house, was the veg patch – my grandfather’s domain, as I recall. I didn’t go in that bit much, preferring Nanny’s beautiful flowers. I don’t remember it, but I have photos of me in my Great-Grandmother’s garden. I see the dahlias but can’t make out a lot of the flowers as the photos are all in black and white. Anyway, I digress…

Heather at a young age in her Great Grandmothers garden and older in her parents garden

When my parents moved us from London to Lincolnshire my Dad got an allotment. He said, ‘the answer lies in the soil’ (you have to say that in a sort of Worzel Gummidge accent for effect!). I loved going there with him, though I don’t think I was much help. Mum enjoyed gardening too and had a veg patch in the houses that we lived in in Sleaford and Mablethorpe. Often it was to help to feed a large family, but I know that she also got enormous pleasure from it. I have so many happy memories of gardens and gardening. One house that I rented had an enormous garden, and I was able to dedicate a large area to a veg plot, plus a 10’ x 16’ greenhouse. I loved that house. But time moves on, and I have moved a few more times since then, before settling in Leicestershire. Walking our dogs around the park, I loved to stop and stare through the fence at the allotments. The military precision of some of the plots – not a plant out of line; the eclectic plots; the ‘Cheshire Cat’ shed. I wanted to be a part of that world. Hubby told me one day to put my name down on the list, and that by the time my name came up I’d be ready for one. So, I did. I got a phone call the next morning from the Charity that runs the site, inviting me to go and choose a plot! Within one week I was the proud new tenant of Plot 47. Eek! What had I done?

I got stuck in right away. The previous tenant had had the plot for 25 years and really looked after the soil. But it was ‘traditional’, and I had a very different vision. I love the potager style, and wanted the space to be, well, pretty. I drew out my design and said that I hoped to complete it in a year. Hubby said it was a little unrealistic – ha ha! Neither of us could have predicted how much of a passion ‘lottie would become for me. Hubby was a great help – he has no interest at all in gardening but is an absolute gem at building things. He built my compost bays (I have 5 bays for various stages/types of composting); I got a greenhouse from Freecycle; I got a shed for £30 from eBay. He put them up and made sure that they were strong enough to withstand the strong winds on an exposed site. I gradually cleared areas, small chunks at a time, before planting them up.

The allotment community were very welcoming, and I was given loads of seedlings. This was very helpful as I had started a bit later in the season. I made friends with loads of people and have come to feel a part of this special community. I have learned so much from other plot holders, but also invested time in learning from some terrific online resources. And what a boost for my brain! I’m constantly planning, researching, sketching out – next season; next year. There’s always a project. I’m always making lists: job lists; grow lists; shopping lists; preserving lists. It is so much fun bringing in new ideas each year.

Additions have been a huge rainwater harvesting system, plus solar powered drip irrigation for inside the polytunnel, another super bargain that Hubby put up for me. He has also built me a fruit cage – more of a mini orchard of dwarf fruit trees. I have a small wildlife pond with a good frog population to help keep the slugs at bay. A trail cam pointed at the pond has shown that I get nocturnal visits from foxes, hedgehogs and mice. Lots of birds take a daily bath in there too.

Some Robins made a home on Plot 47

Plot 47, my Little Piece of Heaven, has been a labour of love. I have created a space that is

productive but also incredibly beautiful in its own way. I tell people that it’s my gym, my therapist, my supermarket, my pharmacy, my social club. It has been my university too – I have learned ways to eat more healthily and seasonally, and I’ve studied ways of better managing my space. I’ve learned to preserve my surplus produce, and I make delicious jams, chutneys and wines. I get enormous pleasure from serving up food that I have grown myself, knowing that I have used completely natural methods that are good for me and good for the Earth.

Food that has been grown by natural methods tastes better too. I make tinctures, salves and other remedies from medicinal plants, enjoying the research into the ‘old ways’. I call it my Holy of Holies. It’s where I commune with Mother Earth and assist her in bringing new life into being. I feel at one there in the sanctuary that I have created. Plot 47 really is my Little Piece of Heaven.

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