Growing Unusual Fruit

Growing Unusual Fruit is the first book I ever illustrated and it all began back in 1973. The American publisher, Walker and Company, found me through the magazine of the American Museum of Natural History, where my business card was pinned to the bulletin board of the editor. Walker needed fifty accurate black and white illustrations to be delivered within thirty days--and I got the job.

The publisher was so pleased with the outcome that Illustrating Growing Unusual Fruit was the beginning of my writing career. Thanks to author Alan E. Simmons, Walker asked me to both write and illustrate a new book with a new subject and the result was The Indoor Water Gardener's How-To Handbook which reached bookstores in 1973, where it sold over 12,000 copies the first year--and that was before the block-buster mentalities of today.

As to Simmon's book it was and still is a classic! I actually have a quince tree in my present garden because of reading his text about the quince.

The quince (Cydonia oblonga) is a very ancient fruit known to both the Greeks and the Romans who dedicated it to Venus or Aphrodite, depending on your cultural background. Some biblical sources claim that the quince is the original apple of The Garden of Eden.

At one time quinces were stewed with apples, used to make wine (Cotignac, a famous French preserve, is made from the fruit), and today, these fruits make the best jelly ever. a jelly to be lovingly spread upon fresh French bread, itself liberally slathered with butter. When properly prepared, this jelly is a clear golden-orange color and brings a warm and glowing bit of sunshine to any breakfast table.

The lithograph at left is taken from a watercolor by William Henry Prestele and features a Bourgeat quince. It was published in the 1894 issue of New York State's Annual Report of the Pomologist.

Simmon's book can be found at good used book stores or at Advanced Book Exchange.