Harold’s Allotment Project

Proof that a 125 squared metre scrub of land can be pretty

Although I love getting my hands on an expansive back garden space to design, sometimes the most satisfying jobs can be when I’m given the most limited resources. 

Harold is one of the many retired clients that my long serving friend, Mavis, has passed on to me. A veritable elderly social butterfly, her hectic weekly schedule puts her into contact with dozens of potential new customers and she’s always eager to recommend my services. She’s become so prolific at giving me work, that I’ve started to pay her some commission to say thank you – thanks to her I’ve never been busier!


Anyway, Harold came to me looking for some help with his half-size allotment.

He’d owned it for the best part of 20 years, taking it on when he retired at 65. Although he’d spent hundreds of hours pottering around his shed and planting the odd tomato, he’d let the little space run somewhat ragged in the past year or so and now it was in desperate need of sorting.

Winter is a great time to clean house and strip back.

Flash freezes and cold rains do a great job of breaking up soil, making it easier to till and pull up unwanted roots. Harold didn’t have a particular plan in mind when he hired me, he just knew that his allotment was a mess.

There’s a certain satisfaction I get from completely wiping a slate clean.


In every allotment, every garden and yard – there’s the potential for some thing beautiful, nutritious and verdant. I’m often hired by people like Harold who have just got a bit overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff that they’ve accumulated over the years. Gardening can often go hand in hand with a hoarding habit – pots, tools, seeds and ornaments are just a few examples of the detritus that a retired gardener can collect over the years.

Far from being a possessive magpie, Harold gave me full license to trash as much or as little as necessary from his cluttered shed.

It’s a good thing I brought a few bin bags with me – because there was a lot of things that needed binning there.

Cracked plastic plant pots, hideously scarred garden gnomes and a worrying infestation of sprouting seed packets – all of these were mercilessly trashed. Buried beneath the useless bric-a-brac were a few choice items that I kept, to make sure that Harold still felt at home in his little refuge.


Amongst a few vintage terracotta pots, I found a mouldy copy of Wisden Cricketer’s Almanac from 1973, an adorably small wind-up radio (which still worked!) and a smattering of old photographs  – which were in surprisingly good condition. I arranged these odds and ends with a few potted herbs from my own green house, to give the shed a lived in feel and fill it with a fresh fragrant odour.

Once the ground outside has been tilled and the shed had been sorted, all that was left was to reintroduce Harold back to his allotment.

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