Peter Cundall:

Grow­ing well-pro­duc­ing, de­li­cious green­gages in Tas­ma­nia is sur­pris­ingly easy, ac­cord­ing to our gar­den guru PETER CUNDALL

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - NEWS -

Of­fers a juicy guide to a plum crop

Iprob­a­bly raved-on too much re­cently about the de­lights of green­gage plums, par­tic­u­larly in ref­er­ence to so­called ‘Old’ green­gages.

It seems to have stim­u­lated a huge de­mand, but peo­ple have had great dif­fi­culty in find­ing where this va­ri­ety can be ob­tained. Clearly it is no longer com­monly avail­able in Aus­tralia, but is still on sale in Bri­tain, Europe and the US.

For­tu­nately, trees are grow­ing in many Tas­ma­nian gar­dens in­clud­ing ours, pro­duc­ing heavy crops of fruit.

They are twice the size of the com­mon green­gage with a sim­i­lar green­ish skin, oc­ca­sion­ally cov­ered with red dots. The green flesh is even more de­li­cious and aro­matic than the smaller ver­sion.

Green­gage trees were orig­i­nally brought to Bri­tain from France a cou­ple of hun­dred years ago. The French named it Reine Claude de Bavay. Ru­mour sug­gests this was a mis­chievous name be­cause the plums vaguely re­sem­bled the plump, shapely bot­tom of Queen Claude,

The per­fect pol­li­na­tor for all green­gages in spring hap­pens to be by far ... the amaz­ing Golden Gage

Duchess of Brit­tany.

It’s in­ter­est­ing that many Tas­ma­nian back­yard green­gages are chance seedlings, grown from pips, de­spite the tree be­ing un­able to self-pol­li­nate.

This need for as­sisted pol­li­na­tion means that all green­gages – like most other Euro­pean plums – are un­able to bear fruit un­less pol­li­nated by other, dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties which hap­pen to flower at the same time. Tra­di­tion­ally an ideal pol­li­na­tor has been Golden Drop, but coin­ci­dence of flow­er­ing does not al­ways oc­cur.

This is where the good news comes in. The per­fect pol­li­na­tor for all green­gages in spring hap­pens to be by far, the most de­li­cious, sweet­est and most aro­matic of all gages – and it grows to per­fec­tion in Tas­ma­nia be­cause it loves – and needs – a long pe­riod of win­ter cold.

This is the amaz­ing Golden Gage which not only blooms at the same time, but is ac­tu­ally pol­li­nated by other

green­gage blos­soms.

An amaz­ing, mu­tu­ally sup­port­ing com­bi­na­tion for any plum fancier’s gar­den. And it is eas­ily avail­able at most nurs­eries for bare-rooted win­ter plant­ing.

Keep in mind that Euro­pean plums are markedly dif­fer­ent from their Ja­panese cousins. They can­not pol­li­nate each other and even at­tempts to cross-graft the two species al­most al­ways fail or are short­lived.

Ja­panese plums also crop dif­fer­ently, car­ry­ing fruit on growth made the pre­vi­ous sum­mer. Euro­pean plums sim­ply pro­duce small pointed fruit spurs on yearold wood which flower and fruit a year later.

The eas­i­est of all plum va­ri­eties is slightly tart, even when fully ripe, but ex­tra­or­di­nary valu­able for mak­ing out­stand­ing, amaz­ingly-flavoured jams, fruit chut­neys, sauces and prob­a­bly the most de­li­cious and sought-af­ter of all fruit wines.

Damsons prob­a­bly orig­i­nated from Da­m­as­cus – hence the name – and were in­tro­duced to Bri­tain 2000 years ago by the Ro­mans.

The fairly small trees are in­cred­i­bly pro­duc­tive and highly re­silient. Ours is to­tally ne­glected, is never pruned, fed or wa­tered, yet sum­mer af­ter sum­mer it never fails to carry tight clus­ters of bril­liantly-pur­ple damsons, so thick it is al­most im­pos­si­ble to see the branches.

Even bet­ter, dam­son trees are self- fer­tile so they don’t need pollen from an­other Euro­pean plum to pro­duce fruit. Even the stones can be sown to pro­duce new trees vir­tu­ally iden­ti­cal with the mother tree.

And in­cred­i­bly, they are uni­ver­sal pol­li­na­tors, mean­ing blos­soms from dam­son trees will pol­li­nate every other va­ri­ety of Euro­pean plum flow­er­ing at the same time.

Just the same, all plum va­ri­eties ben­e­fit from reg­u­lar prun­ing and it’s an easy job. The best time is while trees are still in ac­tive growth dur­ing sum­mer and im­me­di­ately af­ter all fruit has been har­vested.

Just cut out com­pletely all branches grow­ing into the cen­tre of canopies, re­move old, dis­eased wood and re­duce the cur­rent sea­son’s growth by half.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.