A beautiful quince tree in Balliol College garden

Balliol Colllege garden: the dining hall seen through the branch of a burgeoning quince tree

Balliol Colllege garden: the dining hall seen through the branch of a burgeoning quince tree

I couldn’t resist just a short post on this lovely little quince tree. The sign beneath it says it was planted in 2000 in memory of a former fellow. I have been working in the college for 5 years but have never seen it fruit like it has this year – well, I’ve never noticed any fruit at all on it but that may be because I’ve not been very observant on my way from the Library to the Hall for lunch.

A perfect quince on a tree in Balliol College garden

A perfect quince on a tree in Balliol College garden

As I was photographing the tree one of the kitchen staff went by and he said he too had never noticed it either in his 13 years with the college which just about takes us back to the tree being planted. We both looked longingly at the boughs heavy with contraband and mused over the delights of quince cheese. I picked up a fruit that had fallen (still perfect) and rather willed another couple to plop into my hands some time soon.  Tempted, I tested the strength of the fruit’s attachment and the resistance I felt to its being parted from the bough was  sufficiently firm to give me time to realise that I couldn’t just pick one like that there and then without asking the head gardener – and it’s a matter of chance if you catch the head gardener who has several other college sites to care for. So, satisfied with my windfall, I took a few more photographs and left.

Quinces in Balliol College Garden

Quinces in Balliol College Garden

The chap from the kitchen said he’d bring the fruit to the attention of the Head Chef and I had intended to email the latter to give additional encouragement –  as he is an excellent chef and lunches are very good with lot of great vegetables and salads in particular available. If I remember I’ll email him tomorrow.  I just hope that new students due today haven’t denuded the tree thinking it looked like a nice pear tree full of very nice, read to eat pears. Because quinces are quite dreadful uncooked and the thought of the saffron coloured fruit lying abandoned beneath the tree with just one bite taken out of it is more that the gourmand in me can stand.

Quince tree in Balliol garden

Quince tree in Balliol garden

One of the great things about blogging is that is is also a diary and now I have noted the tree was full of ripe fruit from mid September (when I first noticed it), I shall have some gauge of what to expect in future years. Who knows, it may be many years before I again see a quince tree with such unblemished, gorgeously sunny-coloured fruit with such smoothness of skin and in so great a number on one small tree. Oh, but I would love to know if they taste half as good as they look. 

9.10.13 Correction. On re-reading the sign beneath the tree again, I realise that the tree was not planted until after 2004 as that was when the Fellow who is commemorated died. The Head Gardener told me the tree also bore much fruit 2 summers ago and that the Fellow’s wife comes to collect whatever fruit there is every year. 

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  1. Ellen Dougherty
    Posted October 8, 2013 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    Hello from New York. I’m another reader that found your site through Jane Brocket. I have been trying to parcel out your wonderful posts and photos, but have (as usual) gorged on months’ worth at a time. I think your embroidery is glorious and I look forward to seeing more.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted October 9, 2013 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

      Oh, gorge away, Ellen – you do say the sweetest things and it’s wonderful to hear. I love blogging and have lots more to blog about and take pictures of, so it’s delightful to know you will be visiting the blog in the future. Thank you very much for leaving your comment.

  2. Susan R
    Posted October 14, 2013 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    Another new reader here, also connected through Jane Brocket. I do hope you can get a pailful of quince when it ripens–it makes a great pie.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted October 15, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

      I now have more quince and shall make something in a couple of days time when I’m not at work. However, I can’t help but notice that the fruit on the little tree in the photos has not been harvested – I do hope someone picks them soon, it’s very tantalising!

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