The tree that is getting a lot of attention at the Garden right now is the Mespilus germanica, or ‘common Medlar’ – a tree that fruits in late fall/ early winter!
As a member of the Rosaceae family, along with roses, apples, pears, quince, and hawthorn, the ripening fruits of the common Medlar look like oversized rosehips.
In mid-to-late spring, the tree’s flowers resemble apple blossoms, only significantly larger. By late summer, the tree’s leaves will begin to change into warm, golden tones, and the fruit which begins bright yellow, turns into a rich gold-brown as it ripens.
The Medlar is a bit of a tease for those who are anxious to savour its fruit, which could be compared to apple butter; the tree needs to go through a period of softening before eating (a process called ‘bletting’, which is often accomplished by allowing the fruit to undergo one or two frost cycles). But, it’s a race against time to enjoy the fruit as it is only good for a couple days before it begins to ferment. It’s excellent when used in jellies or enjoyed with sharp cheeses; these fruits have even been foraged by the folks at Bruinwood Estate Distillery as a base for their first edition of their Botanical Garden Gin!
Come by the Garden for a visit and see this tree for yourself – you can locate it in the terrace garden directly in front of the Pavilion.