There is a lot of merit in having a grape vine growing in your garden. Being a deciduous vine they are ideal to grow over a pergola where you need shade in the summer and sunshine in the winter. But they are not that hard to please. They are just as happy growing over a fence or similar structure. Then there is all that delicious fruit.
When we think of growing grape vines in Australia, we automatically think of areas with temperate climates and dry summers. However, there are a couple of tried and true varieties that do well here in our sub-tropical climate. Isabella is a black grape which is disease resistant in humid sub-tropical climates such as ours. Iona is white grape which is also disease resistant and has lovely flavoured fruit. I suggest both varieties were probably brought to the North Coast from Europe late in the 19th century. I can remember my grandfather growing both varieties successfully on his dairy farm on the Clarence River in the 1940s and 1950s.
You may find it difficult to purchase these types as they are not commercial varities. If you know someone with a vine, the cuttings taken at the winter pruning strike readily in washed river sand in a styrofoam box with good drainage. Alternatively, phone me and I may be able to help you find plants or cuttings.
Please do not make the error of buying one of the commercial temperate climate varieties, which I have seen in a chain store lately, as they are absolutely unsuitable for our climate. It is unfortunate, and irresponsible, of these stores to offer not only grapes but also roses and other plants that do not thrive here and in fact end up being a waste of money to the unwary purchaser.
The Lismore Garden Club Christmas BBQ lunch will be held in the beautiful big garden of Dot and Charlie Cox at Boorie Creek Road, Lismore, on Tuesday, December 12, from 10am. Please bring a fold up chair and a gift around $5 in value to share. For information phone me on 6624 7422 or 0421 021 451.
Finally: A rosebud in a slender vase, a smile upon a friendly face, in everything both great and small, we see the hand of God in all. Helen Steiner Rice
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