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Abundant Future: Cultivating Diversity in Garden, Farm, and Field


'Poorman' Gooseberries, Utah 1888

Ribes uva-crispa 'Poorman'

My interest in painting gooseberries developed when I was invited to participate in the Tradescant’s Orchard Exhibition to celebrate the restoration of the Garden Museum in London. The exhibition comprised contemporary works of heritage fruits staged alongside a display of 17th-century watercolors of similar fruit varieties collected from around the globe by the plant-hunting Tradescant family.

The challenge to find a suitable subject led me to a local, organic farm that grows a variety of fruits, including a group of heirloom specialties. I was delighted to find they had a selection of gooseberries, and chose the cultivar ‘Ribes Poorman’ for the large, pink to wine-red berries it produces. Its origin can be traced back to 1888 in the state of Utah, where it was cultivated by W. Craighead. In 1909 the American Pomological Society added Poorman to its catalog list of fruits.

Poorman gooseberries perfectly fit the theme of Abundant Future: Cultivating Diversity in Garden, Farm, and Field, so I could not resist painting them again. These luscious berries are not only representative of the history of plant breeding, but they are artistically interesting to portray. With this plant, every stage of growth presents a new puzzle to be solved, from the delicate flowers, to the pale green first berries, ending with the translucent, color-rich ripe fruits. These colorful orbs are a joy to paint!


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Abundant Future-powers-poormangooseberrries

Ribes uva-crispa 'Poorman'

'Poorman' Gooseberries, Utah 1888

Watercolor on vellum

13.5 x 10 inches

©2020 Linda Powers

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