1 NOVEMBER 1940, Page 13

Absent Vines—

Among the fruits that have ripened peculiarly well this year are grapes, and their excellence suggests the query why the vine has fallen from popularity. There is plenty of evidence, from the poets as well as the historians, that grapes were very widely grown throughout the south of England not so very long ago, and further back the monks used to brew wine. A vine or two is well worth growing within the precincts of any country home. The small white grape, of which alone I have any personal experience, is much more likely to set and ripen its fruit than, say, the out-of-door tomato. It is an attractive climber, and the grapes are sweet and pleasant. The making of wine from them is not perhaps a domestic art to be highly recommended; but in years when the bunches seem unlikely to ripen perfectly they make a most desirable jam, which would have this advan- tage in war-time that it requires little sugar. Even in England we may sit beneath our own vine and figtree; and in regard to the fig, it flourishes in a number of North London gardens.