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.
The various kinds of " Bon Cretien " were among the best grown. One sort Parkinson mentions as the ten-pound pear or " Bon Cretien" of Syon, "so called because the grafts cost the master so much the fetching by the messenger's expenses, when he brought nothing else." The same pears did not suit all counties alike, some kinds were more grown in one part than another ; as for instance, the Arundell and the Robert, which were specially plentiful in Norfolk and Suffolk. Wardens were still reckoned amongst the best cooking pears. Parkinson notes "the pear of Jerusalem being baked it is as red as the best Warden, whereof Master William Ward, of Essex, assured me, who is the chief keeper of the King's granary at Whitehall." A glance down Parkinson's list, containing some sixty-five sorts, some of which are quoted already, shows several names still familiar in the nineteenth century, such as Bon Chretien, Bergamot, Windsor, and " Pear Gergonell." Several varieties of pears are noted by Lyte in the copy of Dodoens's Herbal, now in the British Museum, annotated by him, and marked with the alterations he intended to make in his translation. A list of names of pears in his handwriting is also preserved by his descendants, which shows how much attention he gave to this fruit. Bulleyn, in his work on Health,* mentions a " kind of peares growing in the City of Norwich, called black friers' peare—very delicious and pleasant, and no lesse profitable." " A phisition of the same citye called doctoure Marseilde, said he thought those peares without all comparison were the best that grow in any place of England".
Bulleyn also remarks on the cherries growing in Norfolk. " In the county of Kent be growing great plentye of the fruite. So are there in a towne near unto Norwich, called Ketreinham." † It is probably to the influence of the Huguenots in these two counties, that the improvement in fruit culture—especially of the cherry—is owing. To these foreigners we may also ascribe the advance in hop-growing, which about this time was coming into favour. Several varieties of cherry were grown ; the best known were the Flanders or Kentish, the Spanish, " Gascoigne," and Morello, also a variety called " Luke Warde's cherry, because he was the first that brought the same out of Italy." ‡ Parkinson describes thirty-five named varieties. Sir Hugh Platt gives an account of what he calls " a conceit of that delicate knight," Sir Francis Carew, at Beddington, when Queen Elizabeth visited him there. He covered a cherry tree with canvas kept damp, to retard the fruit, only removing " the tent when assured of her Majesties coming, so that she had cherries at least one moneth after all cherries had taken their farewell of England".
The garden or tame sort " of Plummes are of diuers kindes, some white, some yellow, some blacke, some of the colour of a chesnet, and some of a lyght or clear redde; and some great, and some small; some sweet and dry, some fresh and sharpe, wherof eche kinde hath a particular name. The wilde Plummes are least of al, and are called slose, bullies, and snagges." § It is evident from this description that the number of plums had greatly increased. John Tradescant was a great grower of plums, as of all fruit. He || " hath wonderfully laboured to obtain all the rarest fruits he can hear of"; and also " Master John Millen, dwelling in Old Street, who from John Tradescant and all others that have good fruit hath stored himself with the best only, and he can sufficiently furnish any." Gerard says that the greatest variety of plums was to be found in the garden of Mr. Vincent Pointer, at Twickenham, but he adds that " my selfe is not without some, and those rare and delicate." Mirabelle, or " Myrabolane," were grown. Parkinson gives sixty-one varieties by name, but he does not recommend them all; some are only "reasonable good rellished," others " waterish," and "The Margate plum the worst of an hundred." The list includes some " Mussell " plums, the same as the modern " muscle," so much used for grafting, and Damsons, also " The perdigon, a dainty good plum, early, blackish, and well rellished," doubtless the parent of the Perdrigon violet Hatif, and others.
* A newe Book entituled the Gouernement of Healthe. William Bulleyn, 1558.
† Ketteringham. ‡ Gerard. § Lyte's Herbal. || Parkinson.
The Apricot, which we have seen was introduced in the Tudor period, was grown " in many gentlemen's gardens throughout all England." The " great apricock," and the two Mascolines of Parkinson are types still well known. He distinguishes six varieties in all. The Argier apricock seems rather of the " Musch Musch " type. It was brought by John Tradescant "returning from the Argier voyage, whither he went voluntarily with the Fleet that went against the Pirates in the year 1620." * Sir Hugh Platt gives many hints on the culture of this fruit. He writes, " A grafted Apricot is best, yet from the stone you shall have a fair Apricot." Again: " Mix cow-dung and horse-dung well rotted with fine earth and claret wine lees of each a like quantity, baring the roots of your trees in January, February, and March ; and then apply of this mixture to the roots of your Apricot trees, and cover them with common earth. By this means Apricot trees as never bare before, have brought forth great store of fruit. . . . This of Mr. Andr. Hill." Another of his observations on Apricots is worth recording. " Plant an Apricot in the midst of other plumme-trees round about it . . . then in an apt season bore through your plum-trees, and let in to every one of them one or two of the branches of your Apricot tree . . . and lute the holes up with tempered loame ; . . and the next year cut off the branch from the Apricot tree. . . . Take away in time all the head of your plum tree.....and so you have gotten many Apricot trees out of one." Later on "And. Hill" is quoted again, and his advice is to plant the trees against an east wall, and to protect them with a " course cloth ... in the night or in cold weather." Platt also mentions, as rather an unusual thing, that " Sir Francis Walsingham caused divers Apricock trees to be planted against a south Wall, and their Branches to be born up also against the wall, according to the manner of vines, whereby his plumbs did ripen three or four weeks before any other." In 1611, " £100 was paid to William Hogan, keeper of His Magesties still-house and garden at Hampton Court, for planting the walls of the said garden with apricot trees, peach trees, plum trees, and vines of choice fruits." *