Wednesday, 2 November 2011

History of pears

Interesting few paragraphs on the history of pears:

About 1730, pear breeding, for which Belgian religious establishments and curés were to become famous, started with the work of Fr Nicolas Hardenport, priest of his native town of Mons. In that year he made an extensive sowing of pear seeds, with the hope of raising better varieties. Now, patience is a prime requisite for those who would raise fruit from the seeds; especially does one who works with pears have to be patient. The old jingle runs: He who plants pears Plants for his heirs.
 The worthy curé possessed this virtue to a superlative degree—he waited thirty years before he was satisfied with the varieties that came from his seed bed. From that time on, for a dozen years, he introduced each year one new kind. Among those attributed to him are Glou Morceau and Passe Colmar—two types still grown to-day. His new pears were a genuine contribution to the world's fine fruits; but even greater was Fr Hardenport's contribution, in that it stimulated the raising of pears in Belgium.
Thereafter, quite a number of the Belgian clergy took up the same pursuit. When the order of Urbanistes was suppressed, in 1783, their garden was abandoned. In it were found several new pears, results of their hybridizations. One that is still grown is called the Urbaniste, in their memory. In 1809, Abbé Dequesne of Mons launched the pear Marie Louise, a variety still grown; and about 1830, Mons. Deschamps, Abbé of the Orphan Hospital at Enghien, raised the famous pear, Beurre d'Arenberg.
 In time these new varieties found their way into the propagating beds of nurserymen, and thence into public and private gardens. Some of them travelled a rather fortuitous route. In England is grown a pear called "Vicar of Winkfield." This was first discovered at Vithers-en-Breune, in 1760, by a French curate who was blessed with an eye for good fruit. Later, it was introduced from this parish into England by another clergyman, the Rev. William Rahm, vicar of Winkfield in Berkshire. 
from The Winter Diversions of a Gardener 
by Richardson Wright

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