Saturday, 5 April 2014

Wait seven years for a pear tree

...and then four come along at once!

Poirier "Beth"

In 2007 we planted two bare rooted pear tree "whips" (first year grafted young trees) in our brand new verger. We collected them from the nurseries of RV Roger in Pickering, North Yorkshire, and brought them to France with us. These were of two historic European varieties so in a way we were bringing them home.

"Catillac" (French) has been in cultivation since 1665. It is also known under the names poirier angobert, poirier gros monarque, poirier chartreuse, poirier trompelaquais, and poirier monstrueuse des landes. The last name hints that it yields big fruit, and it is highly recommended as a cooking pear.


"Glou Morceau", an excellent eating pear, was raised in Belgium in about 1750, "obtained by Abbé Nicolas Hardenpont at Mont-Panisel near Mons". It is also called Beurré d'Arenberg, Beurré d'Aremberg, Beurré de Kent, Beurré Lombard, Délices d'Hardenpont, Délices d'Hardenpont Belge.

Glou Morceau

The next year, we brought over and planted "Beth", a variety raised at East Malling Research Station in 1938 by Tydeman but not given the name of Beth until 1974. Beth is another excellent eater and is widely used as a perry pear. A winner of the RHS Award of Garden Merit, it came highly recommended by Mick Miller, who knows what he is talking about when he is talking fruit. (Just untie the blue nylon rope, Mick.)

Beth has this many flowers!

When in 2011 none of these had flowered, we bought a "Doyenne du Comice" at a graft exchange event held by Les Croqueurs de Pommes de Touraine in Esvres, just to the south of Tours. This affair was bedlam, with grafters working away at tables in front of a scrum of customers, all wanting to be served first. It was impossible to work out what was going on, and anyone who might have been able to help us had been drawn into the melée. So we bought our little Comice from a dealer. It flowers a few days later than the others, and is only just out.

Doyenne du Comice

This year, all four trees are blooming for the first time. The Glou Morceau in particular looks a picture. As if we didn't have enough pear trees, we have bought a graft of "Curé", a vigorous variety from the Berry which was propagated by M. le curé Leroy of the parish of Villiers where he found it in the Fromeneau woods in 1760. It is a more than acceptable table pear and an excellent cooker. A characteristic of this variety is the russet line running down the skin from top to bottom.We watched our new tree being grafted at a session run by Les Amis de la Licherette at the Maillet nurseries run by the redoubtable Mme Claudine Vilaire at Le Puy, near Martizay. More about that in a further post.

Beth, a haunting beauty


GaynorB said...

Will you be making your very own Bethbysham? I think I last had some when I was 18, in between Strongbow and gin!!

I look forward to seeing the results of the flowering.

Tim said...

We're looking forward to it too! I'd love a Babysham - there was an attempt to resuscitate it in the 80s with a very suave American actor surrounded by accolytes - don't think it worked though. P.