Growing unusual fruit.
Arranged alphabetically, this book describes, some in some detail and others only briefly, over 300 species which produce edible fruits. As though to emphasise the unusualness of its coverage it begins and ends with ornamental climbers of the family Lardizabalaceae, namely Akebia spp. (which has made over 20 ft of growth in my garden, not "up to 10 ft" as stated, but has not so far fruited) and zabala (a name coined by the author for species of Lardizabala and Stauntonia). Many of the other plants mentioned, including species of Berberis, Chaenomeles, Cornus, Crataegus, Elaeagnus, Fuchsia, Gaultheria, Mahonia, Rosa and Viburnum, are commonly grown in British gardens for their flowers or foliage, but only a few of their owners will realize that their fruits may have distinctive and pleasant flavours when eaten fresh or in conserves. Other plants which are already valued for their fruits, whether growing wild or cultivated, include almonds, alpine strawberries, bilberries and blueberries, cherry plums, elderberries, figs, grapevines,, medlars, mulberries, nectarines, quinces and various Rubus species and hybrids. Some of these are already being grown on a small commercial scale in Britain, and others undoubtedly would be if only they cropped reliably or could be harvested more economically.The author is on less sure ground when he describes tropical fruits that can only be grown in Britain in heated glasshouses or conservatories. The plants that are of manageable size (in a fairly large greenhouse) such as oranges, lemons, bananas, pineapples and olives, can hardly be regarded as unusual because they are imported in large quantities throughout the year. Many of those that are less common or more exotic, such as avocado pears, litchies and mangoes, normally make massive trees on any of the rootstocks currently available. In other words the urge to plant avocado seeds that seems to afflict so many people should be strenuously resisted unless they happen to possess something akin to the old Crystal Palace.Provided he is prepared to make culinary experiments - there are no recipes to guide him - the horticulturist who seeks new flavours to stimulate his palate should find much of interest in this book. He will also find some rather unusual spelling of Latin names, but unless he is a botanical purist this need not spoil his appetite.G.K.Argles.