The Lady Lily
“I, Lady Lily, started surveying and protecting this allotment about 12 years ago. This year I am quite glamorous which is nice. In the past I have been made to wear some dreadful outfits. Last year I looked so strange that they called me Tipsy Tilda for a few months and put an old whisky bottle in my handbag.
I have been the Queen twice. Once for the Queen’s diamond jubilee and once for the Queen‘s 90th birthday … I had a nice blue dress when I was the Queen. I am a lady in waiting now. My head turns from side to side.
Next year I will have a new dress. The charity shops near here are shut this year so I can’t have one. I have had to make do with last seasons dress … and I must wear a mask for the time being.
Billy the crow is my assistant – Billy the crow is trying to scare the birds off from the raspberries because bird scaring is not one of my strengths. He is moving in the winter so he can turn his hand to keeping the birds away from the purple sprouting broccoli as the birds love purple sprouting!”
The Lady Allotment Keeper
Here is Sarah, Lady Lily’s attendant and the one responsible for planting and tending the allotment. I asked her what she enjoyed about being an allotment keeper.
“I like growing things, and that things aren’t sprayed. It’s nice to see things grow up from little seeds to 6 foot beans. This year I am growing raspberries, gooseberries, beans (runner, ground, french), tomatoes, purple sprouting broccoli, courgettes, leeks, red onions, sweetcorn, a few flowers too.”
“There is something here that’s like a triffid and I’m not sure what it does! Next year. I’m told it will grow right up high and then have a flower. There’s no particular reason for it being here. It just is. I got it from a fellow allotmenteer.”
“A fine gentleman who lives locally and keeps horses delivers horse manure which we can have (of course he hasn’t been for a while because of lockdown) … I took out a big currant bush to make room for the manure as the bush grew and grew and grew but didn’t have any currants so I thought I would prefer to put manure there. That’s about 3 barrows.”
“This little shed is a sort of Perspex cupboard that I use for growing seeds and fragile things.”
“This used to be a water butt but it rusted through so I filled it up with compost and I did have strawberries in there but they weren’t a success so I am now putting salad things in there as well as parsley and chives and that sort of stuff.”
“There’s big tubs of courgettes which I grow from grass cutting compost.”
“This compost bin is amazing. Grass cuttings mulch right down really quickly. It also likes a bit of paper.”
“I like having flowers for the bees.”
“The raspberries have been amazing this year. I think its because I have been able to water them and pick them properly, which you need to do to keep on getting raspberries. Of course Lady Lily is rubbish at keeping the birds off them… I tell her that too when I am out here slaving away.”
Hopefully the frogs will keep the slugs at bay!
“A new allotment holder had a pond in their allotment that they didn’t want. I asked if I could have it. It has three fish and some snails at the moment but they will be relocated for the winter so that the frogs can spawn. Currently a frog and a toad visit from time to time. So hopefully the frogs will keep the slugs at bay! They have to work for their living!”
Do you have any tips for keeping an allotment?
“Be prepared to keep on working at it. Lots of new keepers come and dig a new allotment over, then when its covered in weeds again they are disappointed. It needs constant attention. At least 2 or 3 visits a week if not more. I come as often as I can because I love it here. With a dry season things need a lot of water.”
“The allotments have been split up into different sizes so I don’t know exactly how many allotments are here. This one is actually a third of an allotment.”
“It was suggested at one point that one of the allotments could be split up into much smaller bits so that new keepers could have a “starter allotment” where they can get a feel for how much work is involved. Then they can progress onto a bigger one if they like it.”
“There’s a swapsie table which we use for leaving spare seeds, seedlings or spare plants and you can put them on the table and somebody will take them and its very much appreciated.”
“We have celebrated birthdays and VE Day with our allotment neighbours … They sit on their allotment and we sit on ours. There were lots of flags for VE Day (I have kept these ones as bird scarers!) I don’t mind the birds having one or two berries, it’s when they take the whole lot that I mind!”
It’s a very sociable place which has been brilliant in lockdown because you can see people all the time.
Find out more about allotments