Suspended animation Posted on August 2, 2010

We all know the joke about the man who dug up a plant to see how it was doing. But have you, seriously, never been tempted? Something you have planted with all proper precaution inexplicably malingers. You water and feed, examine its leaves, its buds, its neighbours. You watch and wait: it doesn’t budge.

I’m thinking about a vine I planted 18 months ago on the front of the house to replace a 50 year old one that died (Aha! Clue! Cause of death?)

It is Furmint , the excellent Hungarian variety that gives the fiery spirit to Tokay. It came home with me in a pot; a bonny plant with splendid roots. I planted it with some ceremony, between the Wrotham Pinot (aka Pinot Meunier or Dusty Miller) and the Chasselas .

(Come to think of it why Wrotham? What is the connection between one of the Champagne grapes and the North Downs – apart from chalk? Was there once a vineyard there? (Wrotham has the remains of a Bishop’s Palace). Now Google has put a stop to such airy speculations. It was Edward Hyams, whose pioneer vineyard at Oxted was the ancestor of the English wine industry, now so flourishing, who identified an old vine with dusty leaves as peculiar to Wrotham. Others, bolder in their speculation, have claimed it as a relic of the Romans who paused, as we all do, to admire the view of the Weald from Wrotham Hill.)

My Furmint has six leaves. Last year it had seven. They are green and healthy, rather small, and show no sign of growing. There are no swelling buds or incipient tendrils.

If I don’t dig it up how will I ever know what’s wrong?

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