You can’t be unfaithful to your allotment

I fear I have become a bad divorced dad. In garden terms. Unreliable. Rarely there. Making promises I cannot keep. Constantly away. Popping around when it suits. Trying tragically to overcompensate.

I am back in Denmark for another couple of weeks. Other family duties call. It comes with another piece of land to get lost in. I have been unfaithful to the plot.

I had been going to 29 most mornings. Up by 6am-ish, back home around 8am with bread and buns. Just us. While the energy is soft. Past the street magpies sorting through refuse. The street of screaming foxes. The indignant baby jay. The first butterflies drinking dew.

I have done as much as I can, I tell myself. I have sown late coriander, French beans and Higgledy Garden climbing nasturtiums. I have encouraged the baby morning glory. I have weeded and spread seaweed feed. Picked off the slugs and snails.

I’ve been mostly there though to soak it in. To admire the poppies. To pick the sweet peas. To keep the plot company. To husband the land, if you will. To compensate for lack of constancy. At least as much as I can.

The plot goes on without me.

There are banks of tagetes, calendula, purple-seeding orache, dusky crimson amaranth. The big success though has been with the sunflowers. Tall, multi-headed, multi-coloured spires towering over the allotment, as if entirely self-contained.

We’ve had more bees and other insects here than ever before. Cascades of peacock butterflies. There has been joy here, though not always as easy to find.

I know the plot will be waiting. Patiently as never before. I’ll be back soon one early morning. Pulling weeds. Picking beans. Saying sorry.

Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com

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