Jenn and Marigold's Allotment

Jenn (l) and Marigold (r) cutting dahlias
Photograph by Simon Tobitt
Blue Hubbard squash
Photograph by Simon Tobitt

Jenn Price and Marigold Rogers are retired teachers. They live in the Round Hill area of Brighton. Jenn and Marigold have an allotment plot at the Horsdean site in Patcham.

Marigold describes their plot
“At the top end we’ve got a patio area with a shed. You have to have a shed on an allotment to keep all your bits in, store the onions. We’ve got a path that runs down the middle, and we’ve put slabs down because it helps with weed suppression at the edges. On the left, we’ve got a flower bed with gladioli and self-seeded marigolds, lavender, hollyhocks. Then below that we’ve got some courgettes, two sorts of beans – borlotti and French beans – and potatoes. Then below that are all the compost heaps, built by Jenn.

“Coming back up the other side is the rhubarb patch, which incidentally is the only thing that was on this allotment when we took it over – a rhubarb plant. Coming up that side there’s a cold frame, in that we’ve got some outside cucumbers growing. Then there’s a hedge of marigolds, there’s sweet corn, there’s runner beans, French beans – up maypoles sort of affairs – some huge pumpkins – I don’t know what we’re going to do with those in the end – [and] some squash called Blue Hubbard, which are very exciting and enormous. A dahlia bed of course, because you have to have dahlias. We grow the flowers for cutting, we’ve got a garden but there aren’t enough flowers of any one sort to cut in the garden. Right at the top we have our delphinium beds.”

What’s it all about for Jenn?
“I love escaping here. I don’t have a mobile phone and if I had one I wouldn’t bring it. I’m incommunicado which is really nice. I can do things here which I wouldn’t dream of doing at home, like building really rather hideous looking compost enclosures. If I work in wood at home, I use proper joints and screws and things, but here I can get a great big hammer and lots of large nails and go for it, and I really enjoy that. And there are often things to do like that, building edging to paths, or new ways of holding up delphiniums. It’s quite good; I can be quite inventive, get down to basics with it.”

And Marigold?
“I love coming, because I grew up in this area, and I often sit here and have a drink of water and look over the other side of the cricket pitch and see the houses in the road where I spent a lot of my young life. I lived in lots of different places in Patcham and we played on the cricket pitch, so for me it’s a bit of nostalgia.”

Marigold, on Horsdean’s diversity
“I really love the top half of our allotment which is Lizzie and Gran’s. They’ve made it into a little orchard, and it’s got grass and trees and I really, really love that. And one year Lizzie had loads and loads of wonderful poppies – all different colours and sorts. It was an absolute joy, I really loved it. And the other thing of Lizzie and Gran’s [that] I admire is their sweet pea run. It’s a bit like they’re growing their runner beans, and she grows sweet peas all the way along, and they last and they’re splendid. I can’t really grow sweet peas, so I do admire that. Dallas, she’s made a garden in the top half of her allotment, I think maybe because she doesn’t have a garden where she lives and that makes me think back to Victorian times when allotments often started out as pleasure gardens, for people who didn’t have a garden in industrial towns.”

Jenn on future projects
“It’s all looking pretty verdant and productive at the moment, but I have yet to conquer being able to grow peas without the pigeons eating them. So that would be one of my aims for the future to try and work out some way of protecting them from the pigeons and also optimise my care of them so that we get a decent crop. The future is maybe limited here. We may be turfed off this if they do the park-and-ride. Apparently, they will find us a new site, and equip it for us in some way – presumably just measure out the plots, hopefully plough it up, because I wouldn’t like to have to start with grassland all over again. Allotments generally are just becoming more and more popular, so I don’t think it’s any excuse for getting rid of any. I think the allotment movement if you like is going from strength to strength.”

Comments about this page

  • I am a transplanted Brit (from Southwick to Kingston, Ontario, Canada) with a long family history of growing things. My grandfather was a market gardener in Southwick and Steyning, and while doing my PhD at Sussex University I met Jenn, who helped me resurrect an old greenhouse at my great Aunt Freddie’s house in Southwick. Now I live the gardening/allotment life vicariously through Jenn and Marigold, who remain good friends. The commentary in your coverage of their allotment is just them: Jenn the inventor and Marigold the poet! And the dahlias! I have fond memories of them bunched in tin pails in my grandfather’s packing shed; blotches of plants, smelling brilliant, colour and fantastic star burst shapes. Thanks, it’s grey and forlorn here in Kingston right now.

    By Annette Burfoot (30/11/2005)
  • I think this page is very good and I haven’t been to your allotment for ages.

    By Hana Joste (04/12/2005)
  • Hi Jenn and Marigold, we love your page! But most of all, we loved going to the allotment with you both last September. Maybe we will see it in high summer next time!

    By Gillian and Peter (01/01/2006)
  • Hi Marigold! Thanks for giving me a chance to see your garden in Brighton. It gives me even more of a yearning to break away from London and come to Brighton. Who would forget those fantastic potato omelettes we used to consume on a Friday night after aerobics? Speak to you soon.

    By Helen Hyland (04/01/2006)
  • Brilliant web page. Truly inspiring. Paul is very impressed. We are still searching for an allotment in East Hoathly. Fingers crossed for 2006. Happy New Year. See you soon. Hope reality allotment guided tour is on.

    By Kate Turner (07/01/2006)
  • Hi, Jenn and Marigold! Finally got around to looking at your patch. Very impressed, especially with the Blue Hubbard squash!

    By Eve Sainsbury (04/03/2006)
  • Hello, Jenn and Marigold! Good to see your thriving allotment. No doubt your plants are about a month ahead of their poor cold northern relatives in our garden. (However we will be getting enough rain on ours, though possibly not enough sun.) Hope to see your patch sometime.

    By Ruth Popple (27/04/2006)
  • Hello, Marigold and Jenn – just turned up an old Christmas card with the web address and signed on at last! What a great site and photos – we relate to all your comments about allotments. We do hope the battle of the park-and-ride went your way – any loss of allotments is an insidious movement. We’re just cooking a batch of beetroot, flooded out with carrots (white and red), grandchildren loving daily supplies of climbing french beans, pink fir apples not too productive, but delicious, autumn raspberries doing well etc. We’re well and flourishing – on good home-grown food! Must see you soon.

    By Liz and Ron Cook (18/08/2007)
  • Hi there Jenn,  I am coming to Brighton in July for a conference, my first visit to Brighton in years and years. It would be great to see you! If you email me I’ll give more detail (

    By Catherine Hopper (20/03/2008)
  • Wonder if you’re still checking this. Voice from the distant past. I’d like to be in contact with you, Jenn, if that was acceptable.

    By Ian Russell (10/10/2008)
  • I doubt if anyone will pick-up on this as it is some 11 years since the last contribution, but here goes. My late father Charlie Snelling, who lived in nearby Highview Way, had an allotment in what appears to be Horsdean, although I have never heard that name. I thought of it as the Vale Avenue allotments. I moved away in the mid ’80s, so maybe it doesn’t exist any more. Maybe the editor can help here?

    By John Snelling (24/10/2019)
  • John, Horsdean is a very old Patcham name, I think it is recorded on the 1842 Tithe Survey, generally it is applied to the playing field area on the curve of Vale Ave where the track used to lead off along the back of Barrhill Avenue, but it is also applied to the allotments that Jen & Marigold have behind the Vale Avenue 1909 houses. The allotments your dad was part of were probably those nearer the church across the twitten at the top of Highview North allotments

    By Geoffrey Mead (26/10/2019)

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