Country diary: blackbirds feast on the food of the gods

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Langstone, Hampshire: A rare sight in British gardens, persimmons have a waxy, smooth-skinned appearance of oversized tomatoes

When my neighbour, a keen plantsman, moved out last winter, the landlord razed the garden, dismantling the vine-laden greenhouse, chainsawing the apple and acer trees, and ripping from the fence the tapestry of clematis, honeysuckle and rambling roses.

The sole survivor was a scrubby persimmon. The tree existed in obscurity throughout spring and summer. But in autumn, it came to my attention again, when its leaves flamed red and gold. When they finally dropped, vibrant orange fruit were revealed, hanging from the bare branches like Christmas baubles.

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