October 2017

A few weeks ago a visitor approached me and asked ‘What are those hairy pears you’re growing on the wall over there’ It took me a few moments to realise that he was referring to our quince trees. It always surprises me that quince are not more widely recognised and grown in this country as they fruit well, store well and have lovely, large single flowers in spring.

The edible quince (Cydonia oblonga) which can form a mature open tree is often confused with the ornamental or Japanese quince (Chaenomeles sp.) which although ironically does actually have edible fruit, is a shrub grown almost solely for its red/pink flowers. One of the more peculiar uses for quince is to turn the fruit into a ‘cheese’. Quince cheese is as you may have guessed not really a cheese more of a sweet paste. However confusingly enough it is commonly eaten in sandwiches or on biscuits with, real cheese.

The quince within the walled garden are grown successfully on the east facing wall, trained informally into fan shapes. There are not that many varieties to choose from at present with ‘Meech’s Prolific’ and ‘Vranja’ the most common and probably the best performing of the bunch.

Our quince were harvested this week and have been cold stored in the fridge. Its important that they are not stored with other fruit however as their heavily perfumed scent can taint fruit like apples and pears. After a few weeks of storage they will be ready to be turned into jams and preserves.

 

Ollie Wilkins

Head Gardener

12/10/2017