Unlike a lot of my fellow Garden Bloggers, I am not an allotment holder, it is a world I don’t belong to. To show my ignorance about allotments and their owners, it took a while for me to realise that when they talk about “visiting lottie”, they are not off to see a mutual friend, but off to their allotments. I am not sure if it is a term of endearment or a colloquialism. From reading their blogs and following tweeting gardeners on Twitter, I suspect a bit of both.
Of course, I know a little about allotments; I know that the majority of allotment sites are owned by local authorities and there is a long waiting list in most areas. I know that rent can vary tremendously, some as little as £8.00 p.a . and others £80.00. I can see, from reading blogs, that there is a great camaraderie, and competition, between allotment holders. It must be a great way to make like-minded friends, and swap goods.
To the Victorians giving allotments to the poor was seen as a productive use of their time, keeping them away from the evils of drink whilst providing their families wholesome food. I don’t know about keeping away the evils of drink these days, but I do suspect that since Tom and Barbara extolled the virtues of the “Good Life” middle-class allotment holders may now far outnumber the poor.
I can’t share tales of my days working in my allotment but I can share with you some photos I took of the wonderful allotments I came across in Fontainebleau, south-east of Paris. In France, just as in Britain, more and more are turning to the vegetable patch or the ‘jardin potager’ and their allotments are known as ‘jardin ouvrier’ (workers garden). I was fascinated that, even in October, they looked so green and lush. Take a while to take a good look at this photo of those allotments and you will be surprised what you see. In the foreground there is an interesting rig of plastic bottles, I don’t know if this was a bird scarer or a Heath Robinson watering system. There are banana trees growing among dahlias, tomatoes, onions and what I think looks like a car under a cover. The sheds all seem to be around the outside and all the plots are very close to each other, and what appears to be minimal segregation.
I am sure on any allotment you might come across all sorts of oddments, but I bet none of them have a bird bike like this one below! I leave you to decide if it is a working bike, a folly, or a french version of a scarecrow, perhaps I should correctly call it a épouvantail. Please feel free to comment if you have any other suggestions as to its purpose. À bientôt.