Gooseberries on a bench


Am I a Hoarder?

I once had what may have been the largest collection of gooseberries in this country east of the Rocky Mountains — four dozen or so. Many more existed and exist in collections across “the pond,” especially in Great Britain. That was due, in large part, to the gooseberry contests held annually since the 18th century in the clubrooms of inns, especially in Lancashire, Cheshire and the Midlands. Flavor be damned: rewards went for the largest berries. The gaiety of singing and refreshments at these shows was offset by the solemn weighing of fruits.

Gooseberries on a benchThose winning berries were the handiwork of amateur breeders and some rather esoteric horticulture. Suckling a promising berry, for example, whereby a saucer of water was perched beneath an individual berry throughout its growth, just high enough to wet only its calyx (far end).

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