This section is from the book "A History Of Gardening In England", by Alicia Amherst. Also available from Amazon: A History Of Gardening In England.
In front of the trees trained to the wall or running parallel with the outer hedge, was a path, and this was bordered with a row of low-trained fruit trees, " Cornelian cherry trees plashed low, or gooseberries, curran trees, or the like," or "pippins, Pomewaters or any other sort of apple, planted " all along the side walk. There were arbours at the corners of the walks, and banks of camomile or other sweet herbs on which to rest. The paths were well sanded, and under the trees " green grass kept finely shorn." Between the raspberries and currants beside the path, the ground, says Lawson, should be " powdered with strawberries." In fact, all was done that the orchard might be well ordered, and made fit "for refreshing one's spirits." The arbours were much the same as those in the garden, and like them were often raised on mounts. In such an arbour in his orchard in Gloucestershire, Shallow invited Falstaff to " eat a last year's pippin of my own graffing,"' with a dish of Leathercoates. The Leathercoat was " a good winter apple of no great bignesse, but of a very good and sharp taste." †
Much care was taken to preserve pippins for a length of time. Lawson gives directions for gathering and storing them. " You should have a long ladder of light firre, also a gathering apron like a pocke before you made of purpose, or a wallet hung on a bough, or a basket with a sive bottom .... an hooke to pull boughes to you." For storing, apples and pears should be laid " in a drie loft ... in a heape ten or fourteen days, that they may sweate," they must then be wiped and dried " with a clean and softe cloth," and afterwards laid between layers of straw. Sir Hugh Platt gives a recipe for " apples kept without wrinkles." " Gather not your Pippins till the full moon, after Michaelmas; so may you keepe them a whole yeare without shrinking; and so of grapes and all other fruits".
* Lawson, New Orchard, 1618.
" Our orchards," writes Holinshed, " were never furnished with such good fruit, nor with such varietie as at the present." The varieties of almost every kind of fruit had been increased by cultivation. The number of apples was " infinite," and as Gerard and Parkinson found it quite impossible to give the names of all the kinds grown in their time, it would be useless to attempt such a catalogue now. Gerard gives woodcuts of the " Pomewater tree," " The Baker's ditch apple tree," "the King of Apples," "The Quining, or Queene of Apples," and " the Sommer" and " Winter Pearmain." Parkinson says of the Queen Apple, two sorts, both " great, fair, red, and well relished," and Ben Jonson thus refers to the same apple:—
"Only your nose inclines That side that's next the sun to the queene apple".
" The golding pippin," Parkinson writes, " is the greatest and best of all sorts of pippins." He gives also, the Summer, French, Russet, spotted and yellow pippins, and adds, " I know no sort of pippins but are excellent, good, well-relished fruits." He is not so lavish in his praise of some of the other sorts of apples, as. "The Paradise Apple," "not to be commended," or " Twenty sorts of sweetings and none good." He names several from France, and brackets together " Pome de Rambures, de Capandas and de Calual, as all fair and good apples brought from France." The following are a few names from among those he calls " very good," or " fair," " great," " goodly," and " very well rellished." " Pearmain, Rnsseting, Broading, Flower of Kent, Davie Gentle, Costards Harvey, Deusan or Apple-John, Kentish Codlin, and Worcester apple." We can gather which were the best known and most popular sorts, from casual references to them in various writings of the period, such as, " In July come ginnitings and quadlings."—Bacon, Essay on Gardens. " Ripe as a pomewater."—Love's Labour's Lost, act iv. scene 3. " I am withered like an old Apple-John."—rst Henry IV., act iii. scene 3. " Pippins, caraways and leathercoats."—2nd Henry IV., act v. scene 3. " And after pleasing gifts for her purveyed, Queen-apples, and red cherries from the tree".
Faerie Queene, Canto VI., fragment of Book VII.
" Tho' would I seeke for Queene Apples unrype".
Shephearde's Calendar, June.
" Not yet old enough for a man, nor young enough for a boy : as a squash is before 'tis a peascod, or a codling when 'tis almost an apple".
Twelfth Night, act i. scene 5.
Cooking apples were baked or roasted and dressed in many other ways, and the choicer varieties were served as now for dessert at the end of dinner.
" I will make an end of my dinner; There's pippins and cheese to come".
Merry Wives of Windsor, act i. scene 2.
" The best sort of apples serve at the last course of the table, in most men's houses of account, where, if they grow any rare or excellent fruit, it is then set forth to be seen and tasted.* Cider was still made in quantities, and the largest orchards were of cider apples, but there was yet another use made of this fruit. The " pulp of apples and swine's grease and Rosewater" was made into an ointment, "used to beautifie the face," " which is called in shops pomatum." †
The Quince, which is now almost entirely neglected, received much attention. Hugh Platt says they " may well be grafted on a medlar" (but not a medlar on a quince, proved by Master Hill). Gerard gives three varieties, Parkinson six, and writes " There is no fruit growing in this land that is of so many excellent uses as this".
The varieties of pears were even more numerous than of apples.
Gerard says he knew someone who grew " at the point of three score sundrie sorts of Peares, and those exceeding good ; not doubting but if his minde had beene to seeke after multitudes he might have gotten togither the like number of those worse kindes . . . to describe each pear apart, were to send an owle to Athens, or to number those things that are without number." The eight varieties he figures are the following: " the Jennetting, Saint James, Royall, Burgomot, Quince, Bishop, Katherine, and the Winter Peare." The Katherine pear was a popular variety, " known to all," as these lines in "A Ballad upon a Wedding," by Sir John Suckling (1609-1641), testify :—
" Her cheek so rare a white was on, No daisy makes comparison ; Who sees them is undone ; For streaks of red were mingled there, Such as are on a Catherine pear, The side that's next the sun".