(Click here for a picture of male and female kiwi flowers)
We are gradually trying to replace our old grape vine with a kiwi vine. Our reasoning is mainly that the old vine is not very healthy and produces huge quantities of wasp-attracting fruit that gets mildew and moulders on a grand scale each year.
Since there’s some sixty square metres of trellis, it’s probably not surprising there’s more fruit than we can deal with. Kiwis seem as if they might be rather more controllable.
The photo shows a sucker on one of the kiwis we planted a couple of years ago. The vivid vermilion of these new shoots, and the furriness of the stalks and young leaves, never ceases to amaze me.
Anyway, the mention of kiwis takes me back to when I would first have come across these ‘exotic’ fruit, back in the early Seventies, I think. They were called Chinese gooseberries then, and I think the word ‘kiwi’ was limited to the bird, the boot polish and people from New Zealand.
Back then, my English teacher was a New Zealander, and I have very fond memories of English Literature classes, though no memory at all of English Language.
On one occasion, she asked to talk to me in private after class when I had failed miserably to answer simple questions about one of the Ted Hughes poems we were studying. Then, when she had confirmed that I was still enjoying the poetry despite being not able to explain as required by the ‘O’ level syllabus, she let me go: the fact I loved the sounds without knowing what the words meant was apparently quite satisfactory.
Looking back, I’m very grateful to her for that: I think she could have destroyed my love of poetry that day if she’d insisted on my being able to answer exam questions.