Mellow fruitfulness.

Arcimboldo. Portrait of Emperor Rudolph II

Arcimboldo. Portrait of Emperor Rudolph II

This year has been a fabulous one for fruit. Branches have been almost breaking under the weight of enormous crops of plums, greengages, apples and pears.


The young quince tree, Cydinia oblonga ‘Vranja’ produced 5 quinces; last year there was just one. I could make quince jelly or bake them with apples. Or I may just keep them in a bowl on the table and enjoy the wonderful fragrance.

Cydonia oblonga 'Vranja'

Cydonia oblonga ‘Vranja’

The little Medlar tree, Mespilus germanica ‘Nottingham’ worried me earlier in the summer. What on earth is this?
Fortunately it was only on one branch and I cut it off and all was well. I have quite a few medlars, I suppose I could blet them. That means leaving them until they are rotten, which doesn’t appeal. Nigel Slater raves about Medlar jelly, but he also says the fruit smells rancid and look like a cat’s bottom. I am not rushing to make any. Actually the medieval name for this fruit was  something similar, but expressed in the more robust language of the age. Shakespeare mentioned medlars in Romeo and Juliet.

‘Now will he sit under a medlar tree
and wish his mistress were that kind of fruit
as maids call medlars, when they laugh alone
Romeo that she were, o that she were
An open or, thou a poperin pear.’

I am not sure what Mercutio meant by this, but no doubt it is something very vulgar, so let’s move quickly on.

It’s a good thing I decided to pass on bletting this year. As you see, the fruit are now being used. They make snug homes for ladybirds.

Mespilus germanica 'Nottingham'

Mespilus germanica ‘Nottingham’

I forgot to net the soft fruit , but still I had bumper crops. I was surprised because last year the blackbirds ate most of fruit.  Maybe the scarecrow, Chloris scares them. As I said in an earlier post, she scares me. She looks ever more dissolute and is ageing faster than I am. I have tried to make her less androgynous -looking. She now sports a blonde wig and a padded bra.

I have noticed that people looking round the garden do a double take when they see her. Nobody ever says anything, but they do give me funny looks. Maybe they have never seen a scarecrow with a blonde wig and a bra before. I must give her some smarter trousers.

She is quite a presence. If I accidentally bump into her when I am gardening, I find myself apologising profusely.

Anyway, under her baleful gaze I have had lots of wonderful soft fruit this year.

I have a huge walnut tree and this is a wonderful year for walnuts. So I am told. The trouble is that Chloris doesn’t scare squirrels. They have built a drey in the walnut tree. All summer the babies have been doing acrobatics in the tree, practising for the moment that the nuts would be ready.  Other people round here have walnuts, I have to buy other people’s.  I wouldn’t mind if the squirrels ate them all. But they just rush around burying them.
Still, they are cute.

Have you had bumper  fruit harvests this year?

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51 Responses to Mellow fruitfulness.

  1. Oh, what a lovely post … So entertaining and full of humour. I’m even less sure I want to eat medlars but must find out what Mercutio’s ‘poperin’ pear is about. Hasn’t it been a great year for apples. Our old trees are boughted down, only the Bramley is worth eating though as most were meant for cider.

  2. Brian Skeys says:

    We have had a good year for most fruit around here except for pears, which appears to have produced a smaller crop this year, yet there was plenty of blossom. I think Quince are difficult fruit to deal with, the blossom and the scent of the fruit alone make them worth growing.

  3. rusty duck says:

    Chloris is most definitely improved by the addition of a bra. And hair. 🙂

  4. mattb325 says:

    Chloris’ new look is most fetching. Mind you, she may actually be attractive to squirrels now! I love the picture of the medlar with the ladybirds tucked inside…hopefully they make a good jump on the aphids next spring 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      Even with a blonde wig and padded bra she still looks intimidating to me. It’ s the disapproving mouth that does it.
      Yes, it is amazing how most of the medlars have ladybirds snuggled up in them.

  5. Alas, no fruit to speak of, but did talk to a nice man at the RHS show this hweek about planting a quince against our new house. I am rather tempted by the fragrant fruit and I love quince cheese. The ladybirds huddled in a medlar is a wonderful image.

    • Chloris says:

      I don’ t think you would regret buying a quince tree. Beautiful in spring as well as autumn. I am going to make some Membrillo today. It is lovely stuff.

  6. Lita Sollisch says:

    You are too funny for words. tears of laughter are running down my cheeks. Bravo, and well done. Excuse me, I need another tissue. Thanks.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Lita. There’ s no reason why gardening should be taken too seriously. Which is a good thing as I am incapable of taking anything seriously.

  7. Kris P says:

    Does anything scare squirrels? If you found something, I’m sure you could market it. My squirrels are currently making off with unripe guavas, which they bury as if they were nuts they’re putting aside to tide them through winter. And why do squirrels need to hide food for winter consumption in southern California anyway? We don’t have a real winter and there’s always bird seed to steal! They’re chewing their way through my persimmon crop too.

    • Chloris says:

      Nothing scares squirrels here. They have the annoying habit of picking fruit such as a strawberry, taking one bite, then nonchalantly throwing it away. I think this burying business is dog in a manger. They don’ t need it all, but they don’ t want anyone else to have it.

  8. Julie says:

    Lots of fruit here too, but I make less cakes, jams and puddings now, my freezer is overflowing and still some from last year, I need to come up with some new recipes or find more people to give things too! Once you grow fruit it’s hard to stop.

    • Chloris says:

      Indeed. I think all this fruit preserving is an ativistic instinct in some of us. Our ancestors would have needed to do it to survive the winter. In some ways a bumper apple harvest dismays me. All that fruit to deal with. I feel guilty if I waste it, but I have 10 apple trees.

  9. Sam says:

    I don’t think there’s much that scares squirrels. Our dog does but she’s busy here. I’m glad Chloris has done a good job looking after your soft fruit. Love that photo of the medlar-ladybird home.

  10. croftgarden says:

    I wonder if Chloris would be effective against feral sheep – they totally ignore me, so perhaps I need a blonde wig and some impressive corsetry?

    • Chloris says:

      I’ m not sure if Chloris’ s look would work on sheep. If it didn’ t, you would feel an awful fool done up in your wig and corsets, even if there were only sheep to see you.

  11. Flighty says:

    A most enjoyable post and lovely pictures. Much as I don’t mind squirrels I do like walnuts so if that was my tree I’d be a bit peeved at them. Choris the scarecrow looks rather poshly dressed.
    I don’t grow much fruit and I was a bit disappointed with the raspberries this year. xx

    • Chloris says:

      Next year, I will give Chloris some new trousers and maybe a new hat. I don’ t want a scruffy scarecrow in the garden.
      I grow Autumn Bliss raspberries and yellow ones too. They generally give me a good crop.

  12. homeslip says:

    Quince snap. What a fantastic year you’ve had. I hope you’re keeping up with all the harvesting and storing and processing of your bounty. I bought three quince from my excellent greengrocer this week, along with wet walnuts, cob nuts, seeded fat white grapes and figs, all things I cannot grow but enjoy eating. I will eventually add the quince one by one to apple puddings and cakes. For now I’m enjoying their scent and their feel and their colour. As far as medlars are concerned aren’t they called, rather vulgarly, cul-de-chien in France? They have a taste of dates when bletted and are especially delicious accompanied by a glass of marsala (kept for culinary purposes) or similar.

    • Chloris says:

      They are indeed called that in French, but I didn’ t want to shock my readers. Do they really taste of dates? Maybe I will have to evict some ladybirds and try them.

  13. Christina says:

    It wasn’t a good year for fruit in Italy – too hot! even the pomegranate split very early and tiny. Strawberries are producing well at the moment. Love the ladybirds in the Medlars – they always sound lovely from the name but the process I don’t think I would actually want to eat something that is rotten.

    • Chloris says:

      Sarah at Homeslip says they taste of dates when bletted. Still I don’ t want to evict the ladybirds to try. And I’ m not quite sure how to blet.

      • Christina says:

        I think I’d be more than happy to leave them to the ladybirds too. If you do want to blet I’m sure you could find out how to do it on the net.

  14. Good work, Chloris, protecting all that fruit. We don’t really grow fruit for human consumption. Nevertheless, I noticed that our wild currants were rather sparse, though the crabapples are plentiful.

    • Chloris says:

      Do you make crab apple jelly?

      • My mother did, but Judy does not. Some years Judy does make jam (with a bit of help from me) from fruit we either pick ourselves (there are U-pick farms within a two hour drive) or buy at the farmers’ market. Her favorites are peach and sour cherry. Mine are blueberry and damson plum. Sadly this year we were both too busy.

  15. Tina says:

    Wow–you have had quite the bounty. Chloris and Chloris are a good team. Your squirrels must be related to mine–same annoying antics. 🙂

  16. I think Chloris’s grey complexion may be frightening the animals! I would be! There was an outbreak of feral cats here several years ago and now we have coyotes ( the coyotes ate the cats)- I thought for a long time there weren’t squirrels in Florida-but there are just a very few here after all that.

  17. The photo of the medlar and ladybirds is wonderful! Also love scary Chloris 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      Yes who would have thought that medlars would make handy ladybird homes? I can’ t think of any other use for them, as rotten, sorry ‘bletted’ fruit doesn’ t appeal to me.

  18. Yes, don’t quince smell delicious? I am sitting right next to a bowl of them just now. Medlar fruits are something I keep trying, but though I love the appearance of the tree, the huge blossoms and cute form of the fruit, I just don’t like the taste of them.

    • Chloris says:

      I love your quince post Allison. I don’ t like the way you have to leave Medlars until they are rotten to eat them. I think I will leave them for the ladybirds.

  19. Well, it looks/sounds like Chloris is doing her job. I think you could/should keep Chloris just the way she is–why mess with perfection! I’m jealous of your fruit harvest. We don’t have many edible fruits on our property here at home (except for the occasional Fuchsia berry). But many, many fruits up at our cottage during the summer–it’s chock full of Mulberries, Black Raspberries, and Blackberries, and occasionally Ground Cherries. I’ve heard so much about Quince, but never tasted it. I’ll have to try one some day. Enjoy your bounty!

  20. snowbird says:

    How entertaining you are, I always find myself smiling here, usually with an upraised eyebrow!
    Gosh, medlars, both the names and the bletting are a little off putting, but what marvelous ladybird homes they make! How cute is that picture!
    Oh, what a shame about all your walnuts being buried, but the squirrels are cute as you say
    What a marvelous year fruit wise you’ve had, I can almost smell the pies! I had have a fantastic crop of apples, pears and plums, but the birds got to all the soft fruit.
    Oh my, Yes, Chloris is rather terrifying…..and I would certainly apologize to her, she is utterly fabulous with it though!xxx

  21. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Chloris looks like a force to be reckoned with! The wig and padded bra make her quite special:) Your bumper crop of soft fruit is a testimony to her doing a great job scaring the birds! We had a walnut tree which had to be removed as it was leaning dangerously but the squirrels planted several more in the neighborhood so all one needs to do is walk down our alley to gather armloads of them. (Walnuts, not squirrels which are much more difficult to gather.)

    • Chloris says:

      I think Chloris must scare the birds, she certainly scares me. I’ve never tried gathering squirrels, but honestly I wish somebody would gather them, I have far from many. They steal my fruit and then my nuts. In winter they start on the bird table. Not only do they steal the food, but they come and swear at me through the windows when they have run out

  22. Your scarecrow made me laugh. Padded bra and all.

  23. Cathy says:

    I wonder what Rudolph thought of his portrait? Assuming he had never looked in a mirror in his life he must have got a bit of a shock when he saw this…

  24. Chloris says:

    Yes, you would be a bit put out if you thought this is how people saw you. But as we are gardeners, maybe this is how other people see us. All fruity and flowery.

  25. Debra says:

    Oh, Chloris! Thanks so much for all the laughs. This was so much fun to read.

  26. Chloris says:

    Glad you enjoyed it, and notice no snakes were involved at all.

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