The allotments may have never been more beautiful – or less gardened. Chest-high seeding grasses catching the soft early-morning light. There are banks of buttercups, more poppies than before. Frogs running free from the pond. In just a few months the wild has eroded much of the 25 years of determined vegetable gardening.
The back path is waist-high with Geranium phaeum thrumming with contented bees. There are tall, happy clumps of ox-eye daisy.
This may be due to no-mow May spilling through to high summer. But also to absence. Over the past year some plots have had to be left to fend for themselves. We are witnessing the birth of a small pandemic prairie. Tall, unruly banks of comfrey to be cut and turned into nutrient-rich tea for plant feed. Birds nesting nearer the barbecue area. The owl calling more constantly.
Self-seeded Nigella (love-in-a-mist) in all shades of blue and white beauty. Sprawling cardoons reaching for the sky. Swifts darting overhead like fighter planes.
I am fascinated by a neighbour’s dragon arum with its protruding spadix and stream of flies attracted to it. I avoid downwind.
The summer plot is coming on. The beans and peas have taken, the sweetpeas recovered. There are poppies, calendula and nasturtium, tagetes ilkongen, rocket, assorted salad leaves and chard. The painted mountain corn stems are fattening up and looking happy.
It has been an odd year with late cold and wet weather followed closely by scorching sun. Fewer gardeners. Triumphant wild growth. Plot 29, nurtured in my absence by Howard and Rose. I have pined for this place. First thing in the morning, late at night. A never-ending romance. Let’s simply call it love.