During the Brisbane Show, while manning the Rare Fruit Council display stand, you get to meet very interesting people. They can tell you how they use the fruits from their homeland and also about the fruits that aren't in the country yet. Other information collected is where and what fruits are actually grown in front and backyards around Australia.

One such interesting person is Rocky Hoaran of Greenslopes, Brisbane, who told us he is growing and has fruited a purple mangosteen in his backyard.

This we had to see, and we made arrangements to view his garden. Rocky lives on a 32-34 perch allotment on the side of a small hill. The gardens are on the southern side of the house, also the uphill end of the block. The soil was shale, so Rocky bought in soil and made raised garden beds around the perimeter of his small backyard. He does get light frosts and he protects his trees from the west winds by using hessian bags as a windbreak.

The tree we came to see was a 4 to 5-year-old purple mangosteen which was approximately 8-9 feet tall. A seedling, it had its first fruiting in 1992. He fertilises it only with cow manure. This tree was growing between two other plants which gives it a bit of protection and makes a micro climate, also it is positioned off the corner of a brick house.

Crowded into this backyard and side yards was a horseradish tree, yellow coconut, litchi, jackfruit, granadilla, santol, star gooseberry, hog plum, yellow saffron, Barbados cherry, grumichama, pomegranate, Panama passionfruit, cinnamon, bilimbi, cocoa, soursop, black sapote, curry leaf, carambola, water cherry, white sapote, avocado, Fiysa guava, mango and red custard apple.

All were pruned so as not to outgrow the garden and to make fruit picking easy.

Rocky is an interesting person to talk to and his garden proves that with a little common sense and winter protection, plants we think wouldn't grow in cooler climates can, and do, fruit.

Ann Oram

DATE: July 1994

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