February 22nd 2016. I am standing in a middle of a plot at the end of a row of allotments, at the junction of Bepton Road and Pitsham Lane, kicking at a clod of soil with the toe of my wellington. “So, would you like it?” offers the voice at the other end of my mobile-call. And that’s that.
I gaze around the plot, still slightly struggling to digest what has just happened. Roughly 15 large paces by 12, with grass paths between three rectangular beds, and two narrower long borders along the side fences at right angles to the gate, it is compact, but appears to my biased eye perfectly proportioned. The upright shed in the corner may need a new roof at the very least, and there is a slightly daunting looking mound and rubbish corner which will need attention, but I avoid looking too closely at that for the moment. I bend to pick up a piece of soil and rub it thoughtfully through my fingers.
I have an allotment. The phrase repeats itself in my head to the tune of the robin’s song as I turn for home, the grin on my face growing ever wide as I stroll up the grass path between the neighbouring plots, latch the wooden gate at the top behind me and take one last glance over my shoulder.
The first bird I saw when I stepped onto the patch was a wren, also known as a ‘Cutty’ in the Old Sussex Dialect. The thrilling song of these diminutive birds fills the air as I work, particularly in early mornings and as the afternoon sighs towards evening. In honour of this numerous and delightful resident of the patch, (and as a slight play on words with regards to my plan to cultivate a cut flower garden) I feel the patch ought to become known as ‘The Cutty Garden’.
I will be writing regular blogs about the wildlife and developments on the plot, the patch within the patch, over the coming seasons.
I hope you will join me down at ‘The Cutty Garden’!
robin, wren, green woodpecker, long tailed tit, blue tit, great tit, rook, carrion crow, jackdaw, buzzard, dunock, wood pigeon, song thrush, blackbird, jay, greenfinch, moorhen, great spotted woodpecker, magpie, nuthatch, pheasant, treecreeper, goldcrest, chaffinch, siskin, goldfinch, coal tit, firecrest, bullfinch, chiffchaff, blackcap, sparrowhawk, swift, mallard
Other wildlife**: common frog, common centipede, millipede, woodlouse, small tortoiseshell butterfly, grey squirrel, pipistrelle bat, field vole, mole, fox, common toad, red admiral butterfly, scorpion fly, brimstone butterfly, orange tip butterfly, holly blue butterfly, blue tailed damselfly, large red damselfly, thick kneed beetle
*birds seen or heard on or from the allotment plot
**butterflies, moths, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. Invertebrates where identifiable, (there may be many more present than included in this list)
‘The Cutty Garden’
- Use of any pesticide, insecticide, weed-killer, chemical fertiliser, or other inorganic substances & poisons is strictly prohibited.
- The majority of plants must be useful, i.e. as produce, cut flowers or wildlife value.
- No bad vibrations, arguments or grumps – this is a happy plot!
- Wildlife is welcome and accepted. (Remember this when your prize flower or veg gets munched – live & let live!)
- There is no right or wrong – if the colours clash, who cares? Plant them together anyway!
- Visitors must be prepared and expect to be put to work!
- Resist buying new, when beg, borrow, scavenge or salvage will do!
- When sowing seed recite the following: “one for the mouse and one for the crow, one to rot and one to grow”.
- Remember always to talk to the plants, laugh out loud, and dance in the rain.