Some memories of the NLCA allotment at Stanmer

Photo:An NLCA group enjoying a relaxing picnic at the allotment site at Stanmer, 2005. Paley O'Connor is sitting on the bench in the middle.

An NLCA group enjoying a relaxing picnic at the allotment site at Stanmer, 2005. Paley O'Connor is sitting on the bench in the middle.

Photo:Paley (right) showing Sarah Dunsmure one of the raised beds, 2005

Paley (right) showing Sarah Dunsmure one of the raised beds, 2005

Volunteer for our gardening group, started 20 years ago

By Heather Hacker, North Laine resident

Twenty years ago I read in the North Laine Runner that there was to be a gardening group in North Laine. I was told to meet at Ruth Goodall’s house in Tidy Street. I was not told to bring a bottle and I presumed it would be a serious meeting.

I met other residents

I met that night Liz, who at that time lived in Pelham Square, Jenny from Robert Street, Ruth our hostess, the much beloved Warburtons from Pelham square, Val who now lives in France painting and gardening, and Jane my old friend, a great digger.  We were joined by a few non gardeners. Jackie, Pauline and Sandy were three I remember.

Jolly gatherings

We had very jolly gatherings in each other’s houses and on the allotment. This feisty gang dug up the bare plot. We planned as we dug. 

The plot took shape

Gradually the plot took shape. Roses bloomed and the bags of daffs I planted still come up each spring in great profusion.  A voluntary group from American Express made us raised beds, paths were laid, and we were sorted.

Joyce planted artichokes

Then along came Joyce from Cheltenham Place, who planted artichokes. They made very tasty soup and when the six feet long plants bolted we had a patch of sunflower-like blooms. That is where Paley put cuttings of raspberry canes, now fruiting and climbing over the archway.

Paley took a course

Paley took a course at Plumpton College and became a dab hand at cuttings and taught us so much.  Her famous box cuttings are now two large horned creatures, with her mother Bibi's rose still blooming in the middle.

Then we were down to four

After some years, Jenny decided to live on a small Mediterranean island to garden there. Val from Queen’s Gardens moved to France to paint and garden. Liz moved to Lewes and the Warburtons went to their particular heavens, which left Paley, Tim, Joyce and myself. 

Unable to continue after two broken hips

We all worked at the Dome. We packed into my little car with Nisha and enjoyed digging, planting and eating Joyce's picnics. Two broken hips later I was useless, so gradually Paley was alone with any volunteers she could find. We had been an interesting hardy group.

Please help to keep the allotment going

Following Paley O'Connor's untimely death earlier this year, a new team is being sought to keep the allotment going and enjoy it as much as we did for twenty years. No wonder the gate is hanging there on a piece of string....   A blessed plot indeed.

How to volunteer

If you would like to be part of the new team taking the allotment forward, contact us via contact@nlcaonline.org.uk to be put in touch with the new NLCA Allotment Coordinator.

 

[Previously published in the North Laine Runner, No 241, July/August 2016]

This page was added on 01/09/2016.

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