Hello Geoffrey, and how are you?
Bearing up I suppose, it was a shock you know.
Yes, yes I’m sure it was.
Oh, where are my manners, do sit down Ivor. Anywhere you like, don’t stand on ceremony, like me! Yes, about Oscar.. we’d been together since I was a pip.
We were two of a kind, peas in a pod could not have been closer. Big family of course – always some drama going on. Four hundred and seventy three of us in one bed; can you imagine it?!
But you and Oscar…
Yes, it was different between us. Same age but he was always smaller. I.. I was very protective. Perhaps we were too close – I’m sure there were times when he was overshadowed by me. And I may have been unaware, so wrapped up in my own development. I did protect him from the odd buffeting, and I did lean on him for support when I became burdened; I was so prolific you know!
Well that’s partly what I’ve come to see you about.
The produce? Oh, well you can have that. It’s mine to give but I feel it’s what Oscar would have wanted too. I mean, he never had any offspring of his own but mine regarded him.. recognised him as a guardian. I didn’t need to, but I have taken him into account.
Hmm. This is difficult.. you see this is where we have something of a sticking point.
Well you’re aware that Oscar endured health issues.
Yes. We all knew that.
Root compression, deformity of the trunk, mosaic virus?
All of these were common – these were hard times! No-one expected consistent watering, nutrients, unlimited room to grow, root run and so on. There was much I think he could have done for himself!
Geoffrey, you must see how this looks to the rest of the garden – heartless, cold.
I admit it! The tree surgeon said as much. I’m getting on you know and my kind have a brief but glorious sojourn upon this Earth. Look – Oscar could be thoughtless too you know. Remember the carpenter ants? He let them walk all over him. Of course he knew he was immune – they had no interest in a non-fruiting specimen. Up they came, slipping across onto my twigs and branches, running riot. Where would I be now without the tarwash and Bordeaux mixture you provided at that dreadful time?
Well, he’s gone now. No need to speak ill Geoffrey, and there wouldn’t be any problem, except for one little matter of which you may not be aware; Sheba.
Sheba? Who’s Sheba?
You remember the hurricane?
Oh! Eighty-four, yes, dreadful! What a night. I could have been uprooted – many of my siblings were! But what are you saying?
Oscar had a tough time of it too. Regardless of your protection. He was not so well-connected. Well, at some point during the night he shed a branch.
Just a little one, not much more than a twig. Sheared off at the heel!
Well I never! He didn’t say anything.
Nor would he, so stressed after that night. I had to stake him up separately you know. You, of course got the scaffolding treatment, for a whole year.
Until after my crop was gathered, as I remember.
That twig, of Oscar.. I popped it in a bucket!
You don’t say… Wait.. wait, did it strike?
It certainly did! We called her Sheba. In a sheltered corner of the pottage garden she grew from strength to strength, and within five years she was in blossom.
Well I never!
And then the most remarkable thing happened.. she set fruit, and when Sheba’s fruit ripened, large and firm and juicy they were.. but seedless!
But.. but that isn’t..
Possible? Never before in a pomegranate… but Sheba didn’t know that. She just did what came naturally, and it was in her genes, the genes of Oscar. Unlike yours..
But Oscar was my brother!
So you thought, but this proves otherwise.
No! I won’t have it! It’s just a flook – one fruit, fortuitously seedless.
I’m sorry Geoffrey. There’s no easy way to say this. We’ve taken cuttings..
And those cuttings took, and grew. And the first of those cuttings flowered, was pollinated and developed fruit this year. Seedless.
They are a sensation! Full of flavour, easy to juice. I know these culinary matters would not normally concern you but you see.. the Old pomegranate’s days are numbered.
Oscar! That little traitor! To think that for years..
Oscar is long gone. We had him sectioned for analysis; even the rootball is now in cold store in the labs. The clones are doing well. But we do have a problem.
Space. The cuttings need to be ramped up; polytunnels, nursery beds, all require space if the new clone is to reach market entry cohort big enough to engage investors before our lease renewal.
Ivor… I see you brought a chainsaw with you..
You know how it is Geoffrey. Times change. Needs must. Hold still old man, it’ll be easier if you don’t fight it.