Pear & Cherry notes

– Posted in: Fruit
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Fruit trees–one of my favorite topics. Sweet cherries that do well here include Bing, my favorite for size and FLAVOR, Lapins, Van, Republican (sweet, very dark juice, black fleshed, soft–the crows believe this is their tree), Royal Ann/Napoleon (the insipid white fleshed one). . .I am looking into a newer one recommended for Montana: Kristin, hardiest Bing type & crack resistant. And Lapins, from Canada, sounds similar & is self-pollinating. Rainier, a huge white fleshed one from WA. is pushed heavily in the stores in July but I don’t think it has much flavor. I am also thinking of trying a Morello, part way between pie cherry and sweet cherry with dark red fruit and juice. I revel in cherries in season–fresh from the tree, in jam & juice, dried and made into ‘recipe’ liqueur for Christmas presents. Just north of here in Creston there are substantial cherry and peach orchards I love to visit in the summer; I hope to try some of the peach varieties they recommend for myself if I can find them this side of the border.
Pears are also one of my favorite fruits. Many of the standard pears are hardy here: Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc, D’Anjou, etc. My mother has an ancient pear, the last of a duo planted about when her house was built–1904–and with the most sweet tender smooth fleshed fruit. The fruit ripens on the tree so whoomp suddenly it is canning time–like clockwork–on her birthday, Sept. 7th. This is I think a Bartlett relative–I say relative for it does not keep really at all, and has no ‘grit cells’ (the woody crunchy bits in unripe or lesser quality fruit). Whatever it is, I had some grafts done and have 2 baby trees that this year will be large enough to plant out in the orchard. I look at lists of pears in old catalogs or encyclopedias and feel faint with longing. The book ‘Pomona’s Harvest’ will curl your hair with what’s been lost. Still, there are lots available and one variety I am intrigued with is ‘Summer Blood Byrne’, not just red-cheeked like the red Anjou but red-juiced like the Dolgo crabapple. That variety was offered by Bear Creek Nursery which sadly has vanished. I have a friend who planted ‘Ure’ which is a pear reputedly hardy enough for ND–but little, hard things the fruits are and not much consolation for a greedy girl like me who wants pear juice running down her chin and fingers.
For planting I usually mailorder trees–not much available in the area and grafted onto unknow rootstock. For years I used Bear Creek, now I buy from Raintree, Cloud Mountain, and Burnt Ridge Nursery. I have new catalogs this year from Colvos Creek Nursery and Trees of Antiquity–intriguing lists. Here are some pears on the latter’s list: Flemish Beauty, a roundish shaped pear (easier to peel I bet!) “Clear yellow skin dotted and marbled with red blush. Firm yellow white flesh, melting when ripened off tree.” and ‘White Doyenne’, “Pale yellow russeted skin with a small bright red blush on the exposed cheek. Flesh is juicy and sweet with a rich aromatic flavor…described in 1550 as the old Roman pear Sementinum.” Burnt Ridge also offers the Shipova, a Yugoslavian pear-Mt. Ash bigeneric hybrid with reputedly rose-scented fruit. Difficult to choose from so much bounty.

About the Author

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4b/5aLocation: rural; just south of British Columbia/Idaho borderGeographic type: foot of Black & Clifty Mountains (foothills of Rockies–the Wet Columbia Mountains in BC climate- speak)Soil type:acid sand (glacial lake bed)/coniferous forestExperience level: intermediate/professionalParticular interests: fragrant & edible plants, hardy bulbs, cottage gardening, alpines, peonies, penstemons & other blue flowers, primulas, antique & species roses & iris; nocturnal flowers Also: owner of Paradise Gardens Rare Plant Nursery

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.

~Albert Camus in Albert Camus quotations

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Bev Koopman April 11, 2003, 10:58 pm

Peaches, pears, plums and cherries. The images of my grandfathers’ California orchard run through my head as I plan a small, backyard orchard for my own children’s future memories (and my dessert table!).

As I research cultivars, Baleton and Morello cherries come out on top for flavor when cooking, as rated by chef’s online reviews. Nurseries are inconclusive about their hardiness, some rating them zone 4 and others rating them zone 5. What field experience do our home-growers have with these varieties?

Summersweet pears are highly touted by the University of Minnesota, but since they benefit from the royalties, I would appreciate more objective critiques. Likewise for Honeycrisp apples. Everything I read exalts the virtues of this apple, in texts that repeat the U of M’s press release almost word for word.

Performance, disease resistance and especially growers’ impressions of the flavor of these cultivars when eaten fresh, in recipes and after storage or preservation would be VERY helpful for those of us in the planning stages of our gardens.