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Beurré Hardy, Red Beurré Hardy pear painted by Elisabeth Dowle. Copyright Elisabeth Dowle.
Published in The Book of Pears by Joan Morgan (2015); Ebury Press

Elisabeth Dowle is internationally recognised as one of our leading botanic artists and now there is an opportunity to see many of her best-known works in an exhibition at Cannon Hall Museum, Barnsley, Yorkshire. The exhibition opened on 24 May 2019 and continues until 3 November 2019: http://www.cannon-hall.com/pears-and-apples-the-botanical-illustration-of-elisabeth-dowle

The Cannon Hall exhibition includes 12 of Elisabeth’s apple paintings and 15 of her paintings of pears. The exhibition is displayed in two adjoining rooms, creating intimate spaces and truly cabinets of treasures in which the paintings really sparkle. Well worth a detour if you are in Yorkshire over the summer.

Pear paintings fill the first room and there is special emphasis on the pears, as Cannon Hall has an historic collection of trained pear trees growing in a walled fruit and vegetable garden, close to the house. A number of these pear trees are very old, probably dating back to the nineteenth century, when the gardens were in their prime. The famous Cannon Hall Muscat grape was raised here and the original vine  continues to thrive in one of the glass houses.

Elisabeth has been awarded seven Royal Horticultural Society’s Gold Medals for her water colour paintings. The paintings featured in Cannon Hall exhibition were used to illustrate The Book of Pears by Joan Morgan (2015) and The Book of Apples/The New Book of Apples (1993, 2002)  by Joan Morgan and Alison Richards; published by Ebury Press. These paintings were made from pears and apples growing in the National Fruit Collection, Brogdale, Kent. Elisabeth’s work has been used to illustrate other books, featured on porcelain and calendars and are held in a number of private collections and institutions.

Fruit Forum

 

Pear trees trained against a wall at Cannon Hall

 

Cannon Hall Muscat grape fruiting at Cannon Hall

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I am trying to identify a pear tree that we had many years ago in Berkshire. It was tall, old and produced knobbly little pears that were hard! But they were fabulous to eat once they had been bottled in syrup!
This was about 30 years ago. I would love to plant another if possible?

Jenny Tarrant

A possibility might be Hessle which was once planted all over Britain, in domestic gardens, market gardens and orchards.

Hessle pear

For more ideas on which variety it might be look here for photographs of some 450 pears, most of which have been grown in the UK at one time or another and now grow in the National Fruit Collection, Brogdale, Kent; also described in detail in  The Book of Pears.

Fruit Forum

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About two years ago, I attended a local apple day at Audley End, Essex, where I purchased some estate grown pears called Soleil d’ Automne. These were medium sized, barrel shaped, bright yellow with a very slight pink flush; well named, they were just like autumn sunshine. I would like to acquire a tree to add to my orchard but, inquiries at Audley End drew a blank, National Fruit Collection, Brogdale has no mention of it, as has The Book of Pears, nor can I find a nursery offering it. Is this a local naming or has it an alternative name? Any information on sourcing would be most useful.

Keith Jones

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Book of Pears 9781785031472

 

A long time in the making, The Book of Pears is now published. It tells the story of the pear in eight narrative chapters and contains a Directory to around 500 varieties of pear. Following the pear’s journey across continents and cultures, the chapters trace its history, the gradual emergence of its luscious textures, exotic perfumes and increasing status to that of a highly prized fresh fruit. ‘Gold to the apple’s silver, it used to be said. The pear’s role as a market fruit and international commodity forms part of the story and also the use of other pear varieties for cooking and making into the drink perry. Water colour paintings of pears by Elisabeth Dowle illustrate the chapters, plus many period images. In the Directory, which forms the second half of the book, each variety entry contains tasting notes, an account of its origin and history, a full fruit description for the purposes of identification and details helpful to its cultivation. The Directory is based on the Pear Collection in National Fruit Collection at Brogdale in Kent, UK.

The Book of Pears has a companion website, which is now also launched: http://www.thebookofpears.fruitforum.net

The website complements the book and Elisabeth’s paintings by providing photographs of almost every one of the varieties described in its Directory; impossible to include in the book itself. Together with the book, this gallery of photographs can be used to put a picture to a name and help put a name to an unknown pear. All the varieties shown on the website were photographed and grow in the National Fruit Collection (except where noted).

I hope that the book and the website will prove enjoyable and useful and that they will work well together.

Joan Morgan

The Book of Pears is published as a hard back and ebook by Ebury Press in association with the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK and by Chelsea Green in the USA. Available from bookshops, the publishers (Ebury, RHS, Chelsea Green) and Amazon.

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