The quince has been popular throughout middle and south-east Europe, particularly in Italy and Greece, but came originally from Central Asia. It was a favourite fruit of the ancient Greeks and Romans, although it is not recorded in Britain until the eleventh century. Popularity grew throughout medieval times, and Gerard’s Herbal in 1597 gives a recipe for quince marmalade and adds that quinces are also used to make jellies and sweetmeats. He talks about the ancient method of preserving quinces in honey, which produced a liquid called melomeli that could be given to those suffering from fever. Parkinson knew several varieties of quince, and described several ways in which they were preserved.



The strongly fragrant quinces make excellent jelly and add extra flavour to stewed apples or pears, or to apple pies. When stored the fruit will scent a room with its fragrance; quinces were once used by travellers in the east to perfume their tents, and have been stored with household linen.

The trees prefer a slightly moist site, have a good shape and display attractive, large, lightly scented flowers in Spring. The fruit ripens in autumn. Trees are grafted onto Quince stocks and any suckers or bottom growth will look very much like the Quince variety above it. It is important to remove any rootstock growths to keep the true variety vigorous and distinct. Self fertile.


Probably originating in the Caucasus region, the species Medlar grows in S.E.Europe and Asia, and was probably brought to Britain by the Romans, who enjoyed the fruit and dedicated the tree to Saturn. The Medlar can still be found growing wild in south-east Britain. The trees have an attractive crooked habit, and showy white flowers in early summer. These are followed by yellow-brown fruits, which should be ‘bletted’, or allowed to go soft, almost but not quite to the point of decay, before they are eaten or made into jelly. For centuries they were believed to be a valuable herbal cure, and were used to treat kidney stones and digestive disorders. Grafted on quince and self fertile.

Peaches and Nectarines
Nectarines are the same as peaches, but with a smooth skin. They are all self fertile, but tend to flower early when there are few pollinating insects, so hand pollination can be beneficial. They can also be prone to frost damage and icy winds, so growing against a wall is advisable. They flower and fruit on the previous year's growth, so prune out fruited wood immediately after fruiting to produce new wood for flowering the next year.



Most grapevines will ripen outside in southern England, although many will do better if given the heat of a warm wall. Some are extremely decorative and grown for their striking foliage, but any grapevine will make an attractive climber and provide grapes for wine, dessert or for birds. Many varieties traditionally grown for wine-making are also delicious for dessert, having a very rich flavour. They are sufficiently vigorous to climb up a small tree or along a hedge. Grapes are self fertile, although some varieties do better if given some assistance with pollination - e.g. by rubbing the hands over flowers to release pollen. This may be necessary if the vine is grown in a greenhouse. All vines need a sunny position. Our vines are grown on their own roots, not grafted.

Red, White and Blackcurrants require similar cultivation. They flower and fruit on the growth of the year before, so they should have all the fruited old wood cut out after picking the fruit, so all the plant's vigour will go into producing strong new shoots that will fruit the next year. They prefer soil that stays moist over the summer, but fruit better in full sun.