— Nan Sterman
Take a deep breath in the garden. What do you smell? If you grow citrus, chances are you’re smelling one of the headiest, most intoxicating fragrances imaginable. This is the time of year when backyard citrus erupt in small, fragrant white flowers that will become next winter’s kumquats, oranges, limes, and more.
If you know the perfume of citrus in your own garden, imagine being in an orchard where a thousand, two thousand, ten thousand citrus trees are all in bloom. Those are some of the places we take you with this week’s episode of A Growing Passion.
We explore the world of citrus, including the vast citrus collection at UC Riverside, where a planting of more than 1000 varieties of citrus trees date back to 1910. It was a time when citrus was the rage and Riverside, California was the heart of all things citrus.
We tour UCR’s collection with its dynamic curator, Tracey Kahn, and taste some heirloom varieties along, with of delicious new varieties bred at UCR and soon to be on the market.
We stop next door, at the USDA National Clonal Germplasm Repository for Citrus and Dates, a living museum of citrus DNA collected from every variety grown in the US and most citrus found around the world, edible or otherwise.
We head north to Four Winds Growers nursery in Winters California. This huge nursery grows and sells more varieties of citrus than anyone else (if you want to grow odd and unusual citrus, check out Four Winds’ website). My great friend Ed Laivo, Four Winds Sales and Marketing Director, takes us on a tour of their growing operation and shares his expertise about the best backyard varieties.
Finally, we circle back home to visit the Lyall family at Rancho Monte Vista in Pauma Valley. Fourth generation farmers and brothers Andy and Tim Lyall have joined their dad Warren and their mother Jan in their 160-acre operation.
Watching the Lyalls work together was more than heartwarming. How this new generation respects the older generations while changing the way the business operates brings me hope for the future of farming.
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