on a mild day

February 17, 2013


February 17 marks the first meaningful trip to the allotment partially to enjoy the morning sun but also to make some sort of vague plan for what to do following the wet winter. So what to grow when and where. Some folks have maintained tidy plots – congratulations to whoever manages this plot (pic below) well sheltered within the hedges and light woodland of the West Hill. Feel ashamed when seeing the contrast with mine above (great borrowed view though) – what have I been doing this winter . . .

well kept 2

. . .  peeping through the opening of the plot opposite mine shows some well dug ground . . . . . .

growth 1l k

. .  and further along the site in the large open area, neat rows of leeks and signs of activity. Just noticed the road sign!


Even before this visit,  the plan was to give up one of the allotments, 53A, and try to make full use of the remaining plot. So 53A, with the higgledy piggledy character, as below, may find a new more attentive owner even ‘as tidy as a bachelor’ with ref. to the poem.


Before things sprout in late spring, the timber constructions take centre stage . . .

constructions 1

constructions 2

. . but the Hebe parviflora hedge retains a green presence.

hebe hedge


Ghostly qualities remain of seed heads just clinging to their final days.

artichoke 2012

artichoke 2013

And a hint of what might be. New arching foliage of artichokes and graceful young flowering heads of euphorbia. And some fun from U.A Fanthorpe. Still with us with zany wit.


As mute as monks, tidy as bachelors,
They manicure their little plots of earth.
Pop music from the council house estate
Counterpoints with the Sunday-morning bells,
But neither siren voice has power for these
Drab solitary men who spend their time
Kneeling, or fetching water, soberly,
Or walking softly down a row of beans.

Like drill-sergeants, they measure their recruits.
The infant sprig receives the proper space
The manly fullgrown cauliflower will need.
And all must toe the line here; stern and leaf,
As well as root, obey the rule of string.
Domesticated tilth aligns itself
In sweet conformity; but head in air
Soars the unruly loveliness of beans.

They visit hidden places of the earth
When tenderly with fork and hand they grope
To lift potatoes, and the round, flushed globes
Tumble like pearls out of the moving soil.
They share strange intuitions, know how much
Patience and energy and sense of poise
It takes to be an onion; and they share
The subtle benediction of the beans.

They see the casual holiness that spreads
Along obedient furrows. Cabbages
Unfurl their veined and rounded fans in joy,
And buds of sprouts rejoice along their stalks.
The ferny tops of carrots, stout red stems
Of beetroot, zany sunflowers with blond hair
And bloodshot faces, shine like seraphim
Under the long flat fingers of the beans. U A  Fanthorpe Men on Allotments

7 Responses to “on a mild day”

  1. Elizabeth Says:

    What a stunning poem! Makes me miss having a garden in the worst way. Lovely photos…..hinting of spring. It’s the coldest day of the year here with a biting wind.
    So glad we are going to Morocco on Thursday.

    • julia fogg Says:

      Makes missing having a garden in the worst way – oh so true but at least i don’t have to look at the mud unless of course I want to by visiting. lovely Morocco – enjoy

  2. emma reuss Says:

    love the poem julia – i have allotment envy!

  3. julia fogg Says:

    Ursula a complete star – dry humour. We won’t read or hear the like again.

  4. Sinclair 3168 Says:

    Sad to read one plot will be passed on but glad to see the brightness, at last. ‘The subtle benediction of the beans’ – brilliant.

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