Tag Archives: pears


A tree laden with a full crop of developing fruit is a wonderful sight, but there can be too much of a good thing. Our pear cordons are putting on a great show this year. I had thinned some out, but still they are groaning under the weight of the crop. Except one. It tried groaning, but gave up. The top couple of feet broke away under the weight, snapping the cane it was tied to for training purposes, and dragging the supporting wire down. Continue reading

Busy bees

Our bees have been busy working on the spring blossom, first the pears, which flower early in the warmest part of the garden, and then the cherries, and soon the apple blossom. Temperatures last week were high enough to allow a brief inspection of the hives. Of the four that went through the winter, three have survived in excellent condition. They still have plenty of stores left and look to be in good health and particularly large numbers, so we added the supers and everything looks good for a decent harvest this year. The one colony that died out was rather weak going into the winter, so not a loss we are overly worried about. Continue reading

Winter pruning of the cordon apples and pears

Our cordon apples and pears are pruned largely during late summer. However, there is usually some work to do in winter, cutting back secondary growth and thinning spur systems. The latter is not easy to do until after leaf fall, when the structure is more readily observed. With spring around the corner, it was definitely time to check them over. Continue reading

Tidying up the fruit

Over the last couple of weeks we have been tidying up some of the fruit in the kitchen garden. Whilst our orchard trees will be grown as bushes or half standards, along with full sized specimens of chestnut, walnut, and mulberry, all of the fruit in the kitchen garden is trained in some sort of restricted form. Various fruits were in need of attention – the cordon apples and pears were overdue for their summer pruning, the figs in the glasshouse had become rather large and unlikely to be productive next year, and training wires, which should have been in place before planting, are missing in various parts of the garden, some of which we have now fixed. Continue reading

Pear Doyenne d’Ete

Doyenne d'Ete, ripe and ready to eat in July

Pear Doyenne d’Ete, ripe and ready to eat in July

The Doyenne d’Ete, or summer doyenne, is an old variety of early summer pear. While we have many weeks yet before the main pear crop begins, this early pear is generally ripe around mid July to the end of August. Like the early apples, these sorts of pear are not the finest in quality nor do they last long. Doyenne d’Ete keeps but a day or two once ripe before the texture and flavour deteriorate. In good condition, though, it is a nice little pear. In modern times, foreign imports have replaced the early varieties of apple and pear, which are now rarely seen. This is a pity, because if one is following seasonal produce, there is much to look forward to in that first locally grown apple or pear of the year. Continue reading

Planting out the orchard

It was many weeks ago when the last of our orchard trees arrived. As the planting site was not ready and the weather was poor, we healed them in, in one of the vegetable beds. Before we ordered the trees we had found somebody to give us a hand preparing the planting sites, as this is quite a big job with 18 trees to deal with, but we were let down and it took a while to find somebody else to help us out. Last week, though, we finished moving them from their temporary site to the orchard. I am sure that the healing in is not detrimental, and it is, or at least was, a common enough practice, but one ought to plant out whilst the trees are still dormant. Thanks to the mild spring, they broke into growth early this year, and it was rather late to move them. We had no choice, however, so moved them with as much care as possible, aiming to minimise the disturbance of the new root growth. Continue reading

Pear varieties for the orchard

Continuing the series of articles on our selection of orchard fruits for planting this winter, this article looks at our pear collection. Within the kitchen garden we have nine cordon trained pears: Doyenne d’Ete, Louise Bonne of Jersey, Duchess of Angouleme, Beurre Diel, Easter Beurre, Beurre Hardy, Marie Louise, Bonchrétien d’Hiver, Doyenne Blanc. These cover much of the season, from the earliest summer pear to late winter sorts, but in relatively small quantities. In the orchard, I wanted to add three full size pear trees to the collection. Continue reading

The selection of orchard fruits

Things are quiet in the kitchen garden – and on the blog – at the moment, not so much because there is nothing to do, but rather because we are in the middle of some major renovations to the house and short of time. One matter that we have been attending to, though, is the selection and purchase of young trees for the prospective orchard. Over the next couple of weeks, I will write a few articles on our selection of varieties and preparations for planting.

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Brogdale apple festival, a review

Brogdale, home of the National Fruit Collection, hosted its Apple Festival – touted as the ‘Biggest and the Best Apple Festival’ on 19–20 October 2013. Being something of an apple enthusiast, and appreciating the importance of the National Fruit Collection in terms of the preservation of our fruit growing heritage, I was very keen to make a visit. On face value, Brogdale really ought to be in a position to put on a fantastic event for anyone interested in orchard fruits; I cannot think of anywhere else with such potential. As it is quite a long way for us to travel, we wanted to make the most of the weekend, and met up with our good friends Serafiina and Arto in London the day before, and went together on the first day of the festival. Continue reading

Louise Bonne of Jersey

Some of our cordon pears are bearing fruit for the first time, and Louise Bonne of Jersey was the first of the autumn sorts to ripen. Despite the name, this old French variety hails from Avranches, Normandy, where it acquired various names, amongst them Bonne Louise d’Avranches and Beurré d’Avranches. As the first fruit fell from the tree a couple of weeks ago, the rest were picked and we have since been waiting impatiently for the tell tale signs of full ripeness, eating each as it becomes ready. Pears should be picked at the green stage, and ripened slowly in storage, or more quickly in the fruit bowl, and they should not be allowed to go too far before picking, as their texture and flavour can be impaired. Continue reading