The Book of Pears by Joan Morgan, Ebury Press 2015. Priced at £45 hardback.
This book has been long awaited by those of us in the fruit world….so here are my initial observations.
Its 304 pages long, and takes more or less the same format as her previous book on Apples. There are 182 pages of general information about pears, followed by a directory of pear varieties. This directory is much shorter thean the same section for apples. This reflects the fewer numbers of pear accessions at the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale in Kent, from where the information was gleaned. There are one or two varieties listed here however which are not currently held in the collection e.g. Achan om page 194.
The number of Scottish varieties and those varieties very much associated with Scotland are of most interest to me. This includes the aforementioned Achan, and also Ayrshire Lass, Craig’s Favourite, Crawford, Green Pear of Yair, Hessle, Jargonelle, Laird Lang, Maggie, Summer Bergamot, Winter Nelis. The last one was apparently recommended only for under glass in Scotland!
This leaves a big gap as no description of Grey Benvie, Seggieden and many more of the Carse of Gowrie pears receive no treatment here.
There is a brief mention on page 67 of Gold Knaps, and on page 119 a drawing of 5 different varieties grown in the Carse of Gowrie. Unfortunately I have never seen a description of the ‘’Busked Lady of Port Allan’’. It may well still exist!
The early chapters deal with the Monastic connections, and later French influence on our pear culture, equally relevant to the areas with surviving pear trees today in Scotland. I havn’t seen any reference to the Double Fleur, either in the first section or the descriptions., and I know of at least one of these surviving in the Carse of Gowrie.
The pear key at the back seems a bit too large,taking two pages, but is simple enough to comprehend. We do have to take ripening dates with a pinch of salt for Scotland.
Without doubt to my mind, the record of flowering dates and relative vigour of all the varieties is of immense value to me in determining pollination compatibility. The apple directory is a pretty accurate record of successional flowering here in Scotland, and I would expect the pear records to be equally so. This information is reinforced on page 191.
As before , the fruit paintings are superb and painstakingly accurate, it is very enjoyable just turning the pages to view these alone. Use a finger to blank out the names, and you can test yourself!
I have yet to read the whole book, but couldn’t help my excitement to comment here…
Grey Benvie Pears in Dr. Hulbert’s collection, Longforgan
So Joan, when are we going to see the definitive Plum book to complete the trilogy?