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.