Is it just a case of the grape and the good?

Tom Pattinson's grapes.
Tom Pattinson's grapes.

There are actually two productive vines in the greenhouse, one running down either side of the structure, and they fit in well.

The white Madeleine Angevine has cropped reliably every year for over two decades, and the first bunches generally ripen by late August, continuing until November.

The grapes are deliciously sweet but contain seeds. The same can be said of Black Hamburgh, a companion vine planted opposite. So do we continue to enjoy the fruit of gods, warts and all, or do something about this minor defect?

Life’s too short to ponder so we’ve introduced a seedless variety.

Pomona Fruits ( or tel.01255 440410) provided the answer to our little problem in their handy catalogue. Flame is a modern, red seedless variety often found on supermarket shelves. It is generally imported but will do well in our cold greenhouse, and ripens in October which will offer the continuity we desire.

The vine arrived in a brilliant package many times bigger than the actual plant, confirming the care taken by this firm. Then to the planting. There is no need whatsoever to settle the roots outside the greenhouse and stem within, as suggested in gardening books of yore. Nor do you need search for a dead sheep to place at the base of aplanting hole. That too was practised by some of our forebears. A spot in the greenhouse border and three generous forks-full of weathered cow manure will suffice.

Our Flame vine stood two feet tall on arrival and had been grafted onto a rootstock so we anticipated rapid, sturdy growth from the topmost bud which was just breaking into leaf. One week after planting it has made 15 centimetres of progress which is very satisfying.

Experience suggests that we can anticipate the first sign of grapes as early as next year. In which case one only will be encouraged so we can sample the first taste. If this introduction lives up to expectation, it will replace the Black Hamburgh. Beyond that lies boundless pleasure!