Years ago I planted a few fruit trees here and there, cherry trees, apples, plums and a few pears. They were just pretty in bloom, and I enjoyed making preserves of all kinds and pies. I would buy a few in July, as our smaller garden centres were closing after the trees had bloomed. They were greatly marked down. I would buy more in the fall when the large nurseries marked the bigger trees down. After a litle while my husband noticed and we bought many more. He noticed that the pears required little or no maintenance and loved our little hillside.
On our zone 4 windswept east-facing hill, the spring snow melt poured downhill from the farmer’s field above. This was followed by the spring rain. So we had sudden soaked and poorly drained ground for 2 months, then a happy late May, June and then dry July and August. The pear trees didn’t mind at all. They didn’t mind the winter and the wind as they had some shelter from the hillside. They only asked for treewraps to protect them from the hundreds of Ontario rabbits, gnawing at their bark. They were easily pleased.
After the pear trees survived, we felt more adventurous. We decided to try Asian Pear trees. We were worried that they were not as hardy and needed to be sheltered in the winter. We searched for a source, and found the Silvercreek Nursery. We travelled to Wellesley Ontario and purchased an assortment of 6 Asian Pear varieties. Wellesley is a lovely rural village in the county of Waterloo, Ontario in an area settled by Mennonites in 1805. Wellesley is not a tourist destination, but it is lovely with peaceful rolling hills. We have also visited this village to purchase our custom wood moldings for our 1890s house.
It looks like Silvercreek Nursery has new ownership, but I am still excited to see the catalog. When we first visited, they were the only nursery to sell Asian Pears. Now I see that they sell Paw Paws in Ontario. I am considering my order right now. I have always wanted one, but have never found one in Ontario. Silvercreek sells both potted and bare-root fruit trees.
At the time we bought one of each of the six varieties of Asian Pears (Ping-Guo-Li, Nikita, Mishirashu, Ya-Li, Seuri-Li, and Chojuro) available as small potted trees. We carefully planted them among the pear trees. They were small trees, less than five feet tall, when we planted them and within 2 years they were all yielding a few fruit. The third year, they yielded baskets of fruit. Asian pears are mildly flavoured like pears, but shaped like apples. I made ALOT of Asian pear jelly and cider!
We were worried that the Asian Pear trees would not survive our windswept hill, being a little less hardy than pears and apples – but they were fine. It was recommended that they be sheltered with some fabric and tree pegs, but we didn’t do that. They needed support, and needed their thin trunks to be protected from rabbits, but that was all the special care that they received. I carefully labelled large rocks with the name of each tree variety – only to find the Sharpie tree labels washed off the rocks. I did not know which asian pear variety was which, but we harvested a variety of yellow and caramel coloured asian pears – September through October.
Silvercreek Nursery ships bare-root plants within Canada only. While you may not be able to order from Silvercreek if you are out of Canada, I recommend trying an Asian Pear tree or two if your climate allows. According to Silvercreek’s website :
“Bare Root Plants
While we take orders all year-round, orders are only shipped in April and May when the weather conditions are suitable for transplanting bare root plants. Shipping is limited to within Canada, except BC and NL. Fall shipping is available for apple trees, pear trees, and most berry bushes. However, fall-shipped plants come with no over-wintering guarantee. CFIA Inspection A $15 flat fee will be added to orders shipped to AB, SK, and PE to cover the cost of CFIA inspections required for these destinations.”
I’m looking forward this year to planting a few smaller fruit trees in my yard, including the Paw Paw and maybe a Quince. Variety is the spice of life.