Gardening: Cuttings: Brilliant show

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The Independent Online
LAST WEEK, when London hung suspended in autumn sunlight, the Royal Horticultural Society held a show of fruit and vegetables in its halls in Westminster. Nothing I have seen this year gave me so much pleasure as those mounds of apples, aromatic dishes of pears and superbly grown leeks and potatoes.

From the RHS garden at Wisley came an exhibit of small hot peppers, 33 different sorts, brilliantly polished red, yellow and green.

The RHS was also responsible for the mammoth display of apples, demonstrating their history and breeding since Roman times. Here was the dark-flushed Norfolk beefing, first recorded in 1807. This was the apple that confectioners baked and dried in their ovens to sell as sweetmeats. Here, too, was the London pippin, an apple recommended as a cooker as early as 1580.

As for grapes, the honours were shared between the Dukes of Marlborough and Devonshire, Blenheim taking a first prize with a velvety bunch of the black grape 'Madresfield Court', Chatsworth with the white variety 'Muscat of Alexandria'.

Free entry to the shows (there are two next month, 1-2 and 22-23 November) is one of the perks of belonging to the society. Another is access to its unrivalled library. For details of membership ( pounds 23 a year), contact the RHS at 80 Vincent Square, London SW1P 2PE (071-821 3000).