What a magnificent fruit the virsatile pear is. Fruiting and ornamental varieties have been real winners for fruit production and landscape design. There’s a pear to suit all purposes and situations. The Genus Pyrus has been producing food since prehistoric times. Pears represent historical presence and approximately 3000 varieties of pears are grown worldwide, many growing wild in France and China. Pear fruit is so versatile if you live by eat fresh, local and organic then take advantage of the season and bottle, stew and preserve them now for the year’s consumption. I have made the most incredible Pear and vanilla bean jam for the year and not only is it a gourmet delight for us to eat but it makes such lovely homemade gifts.
In the urban setting one fruiting pear may well be enough for one family such as the European pears ‘Packham’s triumph’ and ‘Williams’. Both these varieties are partially self-fertile. The gardener could squeeze a few ornamental varieties in to compliment the edible garden purely for their versatile shape, autumn foliage and spring blossoms. Most of the ornamental pears are conical in shape with some quiet column shaped like ‘Capital’ reaching a height of 11m but only 3 metres wide. Ideal in small spaces up against coloured walls or highlighted against brickwork they become a real feature. Wider growing specimens such as Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’, would be perfect for screens and privacy. The Bradford pear will grow around 12metres by 9 metres at maturity. This variety will give you a prolific floral display in spring and it’s rather quick to establish with moderate growth rates. The insignificant fruit stays very small, never developing.
Pears are very adaptable to a wide range of soils and tolerate the dry seasons, pollution and heavy clay soils or poor soil. My favourite pick of the ornamental pears is the Sow pear , Pyrus navalis. The garden design aspect of this tree is very softening with its soft silver felted foliage and dome shaped habit. It’s only a small specimen of around 8x5metres , perfect for residential blocks. October will bring a beautiful display of white blossom and I think this tree brings a homey feel to a woodland or cottage themed garden. The snow pear is very water wise and can tolerate the cold season right down to -15 degrees. Little maintenance is needed as it’s very self-shaping. The pear fruit develops a little bit bigger that the other ornamental pears but I really like to see this miniature fruit on the tree even if we can’t eat it, it just looks cute. These days anyone can grow a pear no matter what space you have as there is even a miniature tree called Trixie Pear ‘Pyvert’, its reported to be self-fertile, grows no more than 1.5m so ideal for a small space or large pot specimen and the best of all benefit is that it produces full size fruit. Pears have really become the latest designer trees.
Dusting off the good old fashioned Yates garden guide because I get the feeling flowering annuals are coming back into vogue. It’s time to invest in some instant colour for the garden. Traditionally I have had a busy lifestyle packed with full time work, household jobs and raising children. Water-wise gardens and low maintenance have been key words to satisfy my gardening needs. So I have decided to invest in some therapeutic garden space where I can create colour, work the soil and have flowers to bring inside the house for sheer pleasure and a touch of nostalgia. March sees the weather changing as we head into autumn so it’s time to turn over your soil and apply a fresh layer of organic fertiliser and mulch. Get your hands dirty and start planting!
Most annuals enjoy a sunny spot especially over winter when the sun is not so harsh. In season to plant are delightful Pansies with all sorts of delicious colour combinations. I went with the timeless mixed Giants, some of the new releases are just stunning if you have a particular colour theme in mind. I just couldn’t pick a colour, I wanted them all. Look out for Pansy spreading violet wings and Pansy purple lace. Sweet peas make a lovely display with masses of dainty pastel coloured flowers; try Sweet pea ‘bubbles’ they are ideal for cut flowers reaching up to 90 centimetres in height and for plants that are useful for a border or pots, try the dwarf variety Sweet pea ‘bijou’.
The divine perfume of Matthiola incana, commonly called Stock is a stunning display of floral spikes containing mainly double or single flowers. Stock ‘imperial’ is a tall variety and may require some support as it can reach up to 50 centimetres. They look and smell fantastic grown in groups and clusters to show off the mass display of colours in autumn and winter. Stock are wonderful in vases and bring a real vintage feel to English gardens and cottage gardens with antique shades of rose, blue, carmine, yellow, red and lilac.
Nasturtiums quickly fill an area low to the ground. The Nasturtium ‘princess of india’ is particularly gorgeous with scarlet red flowers which are a bit different to the traditional orange. Nasturtiums add that extra interest in the edible garden too as both the flowers and leaves can be added to your salads and eaten.
Annuals are a quick way to fill up space or empty spots. Basically they are called annuals because they complete their life cycle in one year which means you have to replace them when they finish flowering. Many will set seed for you and you are sure to get a few free plants for next year out of them anyway. Your annuals are fast growing so they will need to be planted with some fertiliser and watered regularly, dead head finished flowers to encourage more to develop and sit back and enjoy the colour canvas you have created.