On seeing my book An Illustrated Allotment Alphabet people often ask ‘do you actually have an allotment?’ to which, slightly offended, I reply ‘Yes!’
But really, there is no reason why I should feel disappointed, particularly as plot 52, my allotment blog on which the book is based, has now largely become a work of fiction.
Initially I tried making each blog entry like a diary, based on real events with an added poetic or humorous twist. But as the weeks went by I completely lost discipline and, encouraged by comments made by some blog visitors, I started allowing the weeds of my imagination to grow.
One of the first things these imaginative weeds grew into was a rabbit dressed in a monk’s habit, who helped Gertrude Jekyll hoe round her carrots and preached abstinence to congregations of ladybirds.
Friar Rabbit was then followed by amongst other things a visit to plot 52 by the Queen, a frog prince and princess in a pumpkin coach procession and an attack of giant triffid-like dandelions.
Sheds & Shelters, my most recent series of posts is also largely a work of fiction. But I still get inspired each time I go to the allotment. This is the beauty of making pictures about gardening, there is always the physical place to visit when inspiration runs low and whatever the weather it never disappoints!
In Sheds & Shelters I want to try and exploit the variety of visual material found on allotment sites by also including the places that wildlife creatures might use as shelters. Most of my plot52 drawings involve animals and insects that might be permanent or temporary garden visitors.
This, I think is both a way of coming to terms with the fact that some of these visitors are (although beautiful in themselves) less than welcome and also a way of celebrating the full diversity, that for me should be part of any allotment or garden environment.
So I am not ashamed to say that I do not even have a basic shelter, let alone a proper shed on my plot and during downpours I have to make do with a nearby oak tree, which I happily share with a host of squirrels….at least until the rain stops.