Skip to content

The Pear Tree Mystery

May 7, 2018

No, I’m not talking about if or when I’ll ever get back to the Pear Tree restaurant (frequented by Mike and me for special occasions). I would love to eat there again some time, but that’s not the mystery. This is:

pear tree

Four years ago I planted a dwarf combination pear tree in the garden. We’ve had our ups and downs ever since. There was a bumper crop two years ago. (Unfortunately, some bloody racoon cleared them all off just as they were getting ripe enough to pick.) Last spring it was clear that one of the branches had died. Of course it would be the red Bartlett branch (my fave). Also last year some off shoot sprouted out of the ground. I left it alone.

And now it seems everything except the sprout (which has plenty of leaves) is dead. Every branch black. How did this happen?

I take this photo to the nursery and appeal for information. The owner looks at the photo, shakes her head, looks at me. Apparently there was an infestation of pear tree blight last year. Is there anything I can do, I ask. She shakes her head.

My pear tree has passed on. It is no more. It has ceased to be. It’s expired and gone to meet its maker. Its metabolic processes are now history. It’s kicked the bucket, shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible! This is an ex-pear tree!


Now what?

She does have other dwarf combi pear trees, but cautions that I should under no circumstances plant another pear tree in the same spot. Hmm. It’s not as if there is another spot available in my small garden. And let’s be honest. As lovely as it is for the bees to have pear blossom in the spring, what do I get out of it? Mostly disappointment and sometimes heartbreak.

I look at the owner. “As far as I’m concerned,” I say, “you can never have too many lilacs.” She smiles and says, “They’re very hardy.” They are indeed. And, as she points out, as much as people like to grow their own fruit, with so many orchards on the island and all the wonderful fruit from the Okanagan, what, really, is the point?

I go to look at the lilacs. There are a couple that have flowers on them, which is great, but there is also one which will have a reddish purple blossom. Now that does sound nice, doesn’t it?

So I buy the lilac and tomorrow I will inter the pear tree.  Mystery solved.


  1. Do you happen to know if the blight was merely pear blight or fire blight? You should not allow suckers to develop below the bottom graft, not only because they are suckers that divert resources from the desirable parts of the tree, but if they get infected with fire blight, everything above it dies. (I do not think that is what happened here because the sucker is still healthy.) Now that the main part of the tree is dead, you can use the sucker to graft something else onto. It looks more like an understock pear rather than a quince. (Quince were used as pear understock a long time ago, but other pear has been rather common as understock for the past many years.)
    I do not recommend trees with multiple grafts because one of the scions (grafts) always dominates. Also, if the tree dies, it takes four cultivars with it. It is better to grow four separate trees, even if they must be kept very small.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: