Plot 29 : A Memoir – Therapy from an Allotment Plot

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Allan used Plot 29 to make sense of his childhood. Credit: Andrew Crowley

When I am disturbed, even angry, gardening has been a therapy. When I don’t want to talk I turn to Plot 29, or to a wilder piece of land by a northern sea. There, among seeds and trees, my breathing slows; my heart rate too. My anxieties slip away.’

By Elizabeth Grice
The Telegraph
2 Apr 2017
(Must see. Mike)

Plot 29 : A Memoir
By Allan Jenkins
HarperCollins Publishers
Mar 23, 2017

Excerpt:

“When I am disturbed, even angry,” Jenkins says, “gardening is a therapy. Whatever mood I’m in, I can walk through the gates and here, among the seeds and the trees, my breathing and my heart rate slow. My voice becomes slower and oddly deeper. It’s a great antidote to newspaper politics and to anxiety, a place where you can just be.”

Jenkins had plenty to be disturbed about. He and his older brother Christopher spent their early years in and out of “feral” children’s homes, often cruelly separated despite their closeness. At the ages of five and six, they were fostered by a middle-aged couple, Dudley and Lilian Drabble, in the Devon countryside, but spat out again at puberty to go their separate ways.

Allan was the brighter, more adaptable of the two, his brother’s boyhood protector, but for most of their adult years they were estranged until an emotional last meeting when Christopher was dying of lung cancer in 2011. Survivor guilt is double-dug into the elegiac brilliance of Plot 29.

It was Dudley Drabble who gave Allan the packet of nasturtium seed that started his lifelong love of helping things to grow. Gardening, you feel, is as essential to his well-being now as it was when he was a scared city child hoping he had found a permanent place of safety. The allotment is “saturated in emotional memories.” He plants marigolds and calendula in memory of Christopher, the brother he thinks he failed.

Read the complete article here.

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