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Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Knowledgebase record #169

The Adorable Plot by Tessa Newcomb, 2012

Reviewed by: Rebecca Alexander
Review date: 2013-07-19

book jacketHere in Seattle, we have our picturesque and productive P-Patches. In England, allotment gardens trace their roots to the policies of enclosure of open fields which had been held in common, and to industrialization and burgeoning urban populations. This fencing in and privatization began as early as the 14th century but was widespread through the 18th and 19th centuries, when allotments were offered as a small compensation to villagers and city dwellers who did not own private land.

Painter Tessa Newcomb's The Adorable Plot is an exuberant celebration of the beauty and bounty of the allotments in her native Suffolk coast. The first striking thing about her art is the sense of scale. Dried poppy heads, trellis-climbing beans, and giant artichokes dwarf the humans who tend these busy and productive plots. Newcomb's use of color and space is reminiscent of Stanley Spencer, but her style is looser and more dynamic. Although Newcomb's paintings and drawings are the focal point, the text also delights with humor and poetic description. Poppies which have shed their petals are "lovely green globes, ginger cartwheels at the top and secret openings ready to disperse their seeds." Of a couple observing the fruits of their labor: "They sat in the chairs overlooking the plot which swayed like the sea." Whether or not you have an adorable plot of your own, this book will inspire you to head out to a garden with your eyes open, and perhaps your favorite garden tool or paintbrush in hand.

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