Archive for the ‘Fruit Questions’ Category

Louise Bonne of Jersey pear used to be planted all over Britain. It arose before 1780 in Normandy and came to England via Jersey in 1820.

We have a very large pear tree on an allotment site in York. It is similar in size to the one on your blog and looks fantastic when in flower. We are wondering how to age it and find out what variety it is. The allotment site dates from 1917 and the pear tree is next to a footpath, which is shown on maps from 1850s but could be present much earlier. The allotment tenant is not very keen on the tree as a lot of the fruit falls from such a great height and is wasted. We hope to find out if the tree has historical significance and plan to help with picking the fruit too. Can you give us any advice?

Sara Robin



Hessle pear, which arose in the village of Hessle near Hull, Yorks; first recorded 1827.


Fruit identification sessions for apples and pears are held all over the country during September and October.

You can turn to the fruit books for descriptions of varieties and submit samples of leaves for DNA fingerprinting.

In Yorkshire, Royal Horticultural Society Garden Harlow Carr, near Harrogate, has fruit identification days and the Northern Fruit Group holds sessions and gives advice.

Brogdale Collections at Brogdale, home of the National Fruit Collection, identifies fruit by post.

There are a number of reference books you could use:

The Book of Pears by Joan Morgan (2015), illustrated by Elisabeth Dowle and the companion website with photographs of nearly 500 varieties in the Directory section https://www.thebookofpears.fruitforum.net

Pears by Jim Arbury (1997), illustrations by Sally Pinhey

Handbook of Hardy Fruits (1920) vol. I, by Edward Bunyard

The Fruit Manual by Robert Hogg, 1884, reprinted 2002

Apple and pear varieties can also be identified by DNA fingerprinting using the leaves, see Fruit ID website

Fruit Forum


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Some of our cuttings got mixed up. Does anyone know how to tell the difference between Gooseberry (Invicta) and Worcesterberry, before fruiting?



Invicta gooseberry


For another post on the Worcesterberry see: https://fruitforum.wordpress.com/2008/07/23/worcesterberry-is-it-widely-grown/

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Muscat of Alexandria taking First Prize at the Royal Horticultural Society Show, Westminster, October 2009

I have a muscat grape, now three years in a greenhouse. Last year, even with my inexpert pruning in April, we got several bunches of exquisite grapes. I finally hauled out my Alan Rowe book on grape growing and I find that in fact I should have pruned it in December. Is it okay to (once again!) prune it late, or should I leave the thing wandering all over the greenhouse?

Joanna Sheldon

Successful Grape Growing for Eating and Wine-making by Alan Rowe, 3rd edition 2006, published by Groundnut Publishing.

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Mulberry orchard at Tiptree Farm, Wilkins & Son, makers of Tiptree preserves, Essex. (Photographs by kind permission of Adrian Baggaley and Wilkins & Sons).



Has anyone any experience in growing mulberries that they can share with us?

Conor McGovern



Mulberries stain the skin very easily

There has been a mulberry orchard on the farm at Tiptree for over 100 years and many of the original trees have branches that appear to have collapsed to the ground but still produce fruit.  New mulberry trees have been added to the orchard, which in 2017 yielded sufficient to make a limited edition of Tipree Mulberry Jelly.

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Sweet Chestnuts failing to develop

We bought a house 12 years ago with a young sweet chestnut tree (among many others) in the garden. The tree is growing well, appears happy, puts out lots of fruit each year. But only ONE year in 12 have the fruit been usable. Every other year, when you risk your fingers by prising open the spiky ball, the nuts inside have not swelled but are little brown crescents.

I assumed this would improve as the tree matured, but after that one good year it’s gone back to being feeble.

What swells the fruit inside the husk? What’s missing? Water? Warmth? Nutrient?

Other trees in the garden include walnuts, which are happy, and we get several buckets of nuts most years from the grandaddy tree and the two youngsters are starting to produce, and old apple and cherry trees, which also crop well. Our attempts to plant new trees have failed, probably because we are not here enough of the year to water them daily in dry periods, we have given up on new trees for now…

The tree is in the Livradois Forez in central France, at 700m, subject to -15 or lower in cold winters, and +40 at times some summers! For the most part, however, mid twenties and well watered with dry spells.

Chris Comley


Sweet Chestnut tree

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Autumn Bliss, one of the best known autumn fruiting raspberry varieties

My Heritage raspberries were planted four or five years ago. My practice has been to cut them to the ground in February but each year I’ve had almost nil raspberries from the whole row. A few have formed but not in time to ripen, except for perhaps about six raspberries by September. I’m now thinking of digging them out and replacing them with a more reliable variety. Before doing that, however, I’m wondering whether anyone has had a more rewarding experience with this variety or has recommendations for a different management system.

I have six varieties of which the autumn fruiting Heritage is the only one not prospering. The other autumn variety is Polka and there are four summer fruiting varieties – Glen Doll, Glen Moy, Octavia and Malling Minerva. The Heritage look fairly healthy but, in my garden, fruit impossibly late. My reading suggests that this was one of the earliest varieties bred for autumn fruiting. I garden in South Lincolnshire.

Janet Galpin

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We live in central Saskatchewan, a bit north of Saskatoon, and have some old maples that will need to be removed soon. I am wondering if it is possible to graft fruit trees, like apples, onto the stumps. If it is possible, where can I learn more about this?

L Kanuski

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