I’d always had a geeky fascination for horticulture. One of my childhood dreams was to run an exotic fruit orchard somewhere in the southernmost parts of Florida, or perhaps Hawaii or even Thailand. Perhaps it’s why I like travel so much. As a kid who never holidayed anywhere that a car couldn’t take you, and certainly never had been abroad, I longed for something different.
When my grandparents moved to Florida, I spent a summer with them and helped my grandfather design and plant his vast garden. The nurseries were full of plants I’d never seen before, such as bananas and lemons (by the way you’ve never lived if you haven’t smelled a citrus blossom). In one nursery we picked up a book called All About Citrus And Subtropical Fruits. It’s still available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/About-Citrus-Subtropical-Fruits-Orthos/dp/0897210654
I read that book over and over and started searching for other such books. In a library once I saw an antique copy of the 1880 book Fleurs, fruits et feuillages choisis de la flore et de la pomone de l’Ile de Java by Berthe Hoola van Nooten. It’s full of beautiful hand drawings of what must have then been never-before-seen fruits in the Western World. Years later I found a PDF copy and used images that I superimposed with nude photos of Joshua James Hutchings, accented with folliage.
I also recall buying an album by Kate Bush called The Red Shoes more because its back cover was a collage of tropical fruits than because of the songs. I also bought it on vinyl so the picture would be bigger! One of the songs on there was “Eat the Music”, and its line “A Song of Seeds” was the title of this series with Joshua James Hutchings.
The image above is a drawing of the rambutan, a Southeast Asian standard with a hairy skin that peels back to reveal something like a cross between a grape and a pear.
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