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Heirloom Fruits & Vegetables

Heirloom Fruits & Vegetables
Toby Musgrave
Thames & Hudson
Publication Date: 

cloth, 224 pp., $50.00

Concerned about the loss of heritage varieties and those responsible for growing these crops, garden historian Toby Musgrave and photographer Clay Perry seek to bring to public attention those varieties and cultivars that have disappeared from gardens and marketplaces. Heritage varieties are those selected by knowledgeable growers seeking plants based on their adaptability and performance in a particular climate. These plants are recognized because they have excellent flavor and notable disease resistance. Cultivars are those plants that are developed by a grower through a process of judicious breeding in the crossing of parentage to achieve a particular effect in offspring. “A cultivar is a plant whose origin or selection is primarily the result of intentional human activity.” Despite the time and work put into the development of cultivars, studies of the longevity of commercial vegetable cultivars reveal their notable loss in both Europe and America. Calling attention to the antiquity of fruit and vegetable cultivation, the author reaches back into earliest garden history, following changes over time and locale. Photographer Clay Perry brings this information to life with remarkably beautiful images based on the paintings by old masters. Crops are organized by seasons of harvest and by type of crop, so that both gardeners and cooks can be aware when each crop will be at its prime.

— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden