I love allotments. Even though I have plenty of space in the garden for growing anything and everything I choose to plant, I still miss having an allotment. I remember that every time I walked through the gate, into the allotment gardens in Edinburgh, I would feel a surge of positive energy. I think that all the collective activity, passion, care and attention that goes into tending a plot just melds together on an allotment site, and creates a really special place.
I've peered over the hedge into three different allotment gardens in the past week. The first was the new organic India Place allotments, in Edinburgh. It's an unusual site, and best explained by visiting their website (I don't think many allotment gardens have their own website!!) http://www.indiaplaceallotments.org.uk They have an architect designed hut, or meeting place, and their sheds are the old coal bunkers which belonged to the tenements which were demolished in the early sixties. I've watched the allotments evolve over the past few years, because they haven't been there long. They seem to be settling in nicely!
I was in Edinburgh to meet a friend for lunch. We met up at the National Gallery of Modern Art. Across the road, in the grounds of the Dean Gallery, there is another, long established allotment site. I have always enjoyed leaning over the wall and inspecting their bijoux little plots, all neatly edged round by low box hedges. This was once the kitchen garden for the Dean Orphan Hospital, which was built in 1833, so the soil here will have yielded tons of fruit and vegetables over almost two hundred years. In the Dean Gallery allotments I have inadvertently picked another allotment site which you can read more about, in this article in The Daily Telegraph last year.
In the photo below you can just about see the front of the Gallery of Modern Art across the road from The Dean.
And thirdly, to an allotment site which is not the least bit classy, but rather more the real thing. One of the things I love about these places is the 'mend and make do' approach, the bits and bobs found in a skip and carted to the plot to create something useful, and the old armchair given a new lease of life and strategically placed to collapse into after a back-breaking bout of digging.
The plots below, in the gardens of Cockenzie House, just outside Edinburgh, are slowly appearing, where the land has been neglected for years. Couch grass and other dreadful weeds are gradually being replaced with raised beds, and rows of potatoes. It's not a glamorous spot, but these plots are much loved. You can tell - you wouldn't do it otherwise, far too back-breaking!