Popular Pear Trees to Grow
In nearly all respects the cultivation ofis the same as for apples. The tree forms and shapes are the same, I.e. standards and half-standards, bush trees, cordons and espaliers. However, the pruning of the large and ‘extensive’ types of tree (standards, half-standards and bush trees) is rather different. Although the renewal system is suitable in principle, it does tend to produce a more rigid tree which grows taller and less spreading than do apples. For this reason, the regulated system, with a touch of the renewal brought in to keep the trees young, is best for them. The pruning of pears was beautifully summed up many years ago by one of the leading commercial growers; he recommended that you ‘leave them judiciously alone’. In other words, do as little to them as you have to.
Although there are a good many pear varieties available, most unfortunately those that are grown in gardens are largely confined to three; Williams, Conference and Comice. This is a great shame because Williams has a terribly short season when it is in good condition, the flavour of Conference leaves quite a lot to be desired in any but a good summer and Cornice, though of the finest quality, makes a huge tree that crops rather unreliably.
Excellent for gardens. This is an English-bred variety that lay dormant and unintroduced for many years because of its unsuitability for commercial growers. The reason for this unsuitability? Its shape is inclined to be variable, so it doesn’t look nice in the greengrocer’s. That may be a valid reason, but it shouldn’t be allowed to influence gardeners.
Late September—early October
Another first-rate new English variety. It has Cornice as one parent. It also was rejected at first because of its short shelf-life but, as with Beth, this needn’t worry gardeners.
September/October. Very high quality dessert pear raised in France. This would normally mean that it only crops moderately well in the cooler UK, but this variety crops quite well and is of superb quality. Pick it in late September and eat it before it becomes soft.
Fair flavour, but a regular and heavy cropper, which can make up for its lack of excellence. Conference is capable of setting fruit from its own pollen, and even without fertilisation, but it still produces its heaviest crops when cross-pollinated.
Doyenne du Cornice
The very highest quality pear, but not all that easy to grow well as it really needs the protection of a warm wall to give of its best. A strong grower. A ‘must’ if you want perfection.
A very late cooking pear that can still be used in April. The best cooker. People who sometimes have ain their new garden whose fruit never seems to soften and ripen have usually got Catillac. This is perfectly normal behaviour for the variety and is desirable in a cooker.
Although pears are remarkably similar to apples in so many cultural respects, they do have one distinct advantage; they get very many fewer pests and diseases. The most common are capsids, caterpillars and greenfly, with scab being the worst disease. The controls are as for apples.