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First fruits and flower power

Katie Dennis, Counsellor and Martlets Earthworks Coordinator, provides an update on our allotment during lockdown.

Martlets took over plot 98 at the Weald allotments in 2019. We wanted to offer a safe space for therapeutic group bereavement support. A place where the isolation of grief could be met by others and we could share the pain of loss.

The first Earthworks groups and volunteers laid the foundations for the project. They prepared beds and paths, painted the cabin and fences, and dug the pond. We also planted shrubs, raspberries, gooseberries, flower bulbs, onion sets, potatoes and broad beans. Plus, weeping cherry trees and a lovely apple tree.

We were preparing for the rush of activity in spring, but then had to stop because of the pandemic. The coronavirus crisis meant we were advised to cease group activities for social distancing reasons. Our bereavement groups are still not able to tend the allotment for the time being. However, the plot continues to be looked after, in anticipation of our groups returning. We will keep you updated on when we have the go ahead to start up Earthworks again.

A dazzling display

Bulbs that were planted continue to bloom. We had a dazzling display of daffodils and tulips earlier in the year and now have beautiful ink blue irises. These will be followed by striking majestic gladioli.

This continuum of planting for the future is also visible in the growth of our new apple tree. It is now producing its first fruits and will hopefully continue to do so for years to come. Broad beans and rhubarb have been harvested and the next crop will be potatoes. We are all part of the cycle of life and of a continuum. The things we sow will be harvested by others, and what we harvest has been sown by others.

Contemplation and reflection

Plants grow at their own pace, we can’t rush them. In the same way, we can’t rush our grieving — it too moves at its own pace. Some plants will thrive while others may fail, or not grow as we expected. And they may be overwhelmed by pests or impacted by the weather. We can do our part, but sometimes we too must surrender to the elements. It is important that we have compassion for the work we do and compassion for ourselves.

The allotment is a tranquil place where people can be nourished by the healing power of nature. It’s a space for contemplation and reflection — the past and the future have great sway on our thoughts. However, there is an opportunity when tending the plot, to cherish the present moment. We can find respite when absorbed in the sights, smells and sounds of nature. It is so lovely to be serenaded by birdsong!

Thank you to everyone who has helped us bring this project to life, particularly Mo and Pete from Weald allotments. Sadly, Pete died recently, we will miss his wisdom and kindness.

The plot will continue to change and grow through the summer and into autumn. We look forward to welcoming our groups back again as we continue to move full circle through the cycle of life.

To find out more about Earthworks, our allotment project, or to sign-up please contact the Martlets’ Patient and Family Support Administrator on 01273 273400, or email

Useful Services and information:

Cruse Bereavement Service

Cruse offer a bereavement helpline to give support as you need it in addition to their website where you can also find resources on how to support your child.

0808 808 1677

Winston’s Wish 

Winston’s Wish has a wealth of resources and advice on how to support your child through bereavement, whilst also dealing with your own grief. They also have a free phone helpline you can call.

08088 020 021

Childhood Bereavement UK

Child Bereavement UK supports families and educates professionals when a baby or child of any age dies or is dying, or when a child is facing bereavement.