Gooseberries. Three little bushes, unpruned, overgrown, entangled with bindweed, and yet so generous!
The small red gooseberry bushes are laden with fruit. These are all I picked today, but there are so many more yet to harvest, with the usual mortification of the flesh that gooseberry bushes, with their fierce thorns, like to inflict on the picker.
Thorns hadn't deterred the wood pigeons, who had already stripped the large and prolific green gooseberry bush of almost every single fruit. Maybe being overgrown, entangled, etc. saved these red ones.
I am planning my farewell to the allotment, marking out those plants from which to take seed heads, roots or cuttings, dividing and potting-up the buckler-leaved sorrel and the rhubarb, regretting leaving the little pear tree, with its first-ever fruits, but definitely not regretting the indestructible couch grass.
The peas, beans, beetroot and potatoes are coming along nicely, despite a late start for some of them; I may even get to harvest them before I move. There are strawberries, a few red and black currants, and a carpet of sorrel.
In the wildest corner, with its mixture of nettles, pulmonaria, lemon balm, a salvaged rose, many weeds and some tough, tall perennials is the burial place of three of my old cats, under a mossy stone, long overgrown too, and no longer visible. A place that in life they would have loved.
I'm ready to leave the allotment behind now. It taught me much about my ignorance, failings and lazinesses with regard to 'proper' gardening, and my blind optimism and sudden bursts of energy; I won't be quite so over-ambitious in future, and I will be more methodical. Standard gardeners' promises, I know!
I will remember it with great fondness; therapeutic after my mother died, when my evenings were suddenly free, soothing to a stressed working woman with too much on her mind, and humbling in its ferocious demonstrations of Nature winning every time. I'll exchange it for a tamer garden, but hope that I can recreate there the peace, the soft wildness, the spirit of sanctuary, that my unruly but beloved allotment represented.