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it was surrounded by allotments, then called ‘Guinea Gardens’, rented as they were to citizens of Birmingham and its surrounding villages for one guinea.  The Guinea Gardens were used for growing produce, everything from gooseberries to asparagus, but they were also places of leisure. Flower growing was a common hobby, an art which a gentleman wrote was carried ‘to great perfection’ by the allotment-ers. I like the idea of these people spending their weekends doing something wilfully colourful, showy-offy. Growing something just for the sake of it.  The Guinea Gardens were also places of rest. They were places where the working class and the middle class could meet, and have a chat under the weekend sun while the shared project of growing green things quietened differences.  The glory days of 1820-30, when the greenbelt was essentially a wreath of allotments. When land for growing food was a priority in urban…

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