The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 4: British Gardens (1100-1830)

Roman fruit growing in Britain

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654. The more delicate fruits and legumes, introduced by the Romans, would, in all probability, be lost after their retirement from the island; and we may trace with more certainty the origin of what we now possess to the ecclesiastical establishments of the dark ages, and during; the reign in England of the Norman line and the Plantagenets. It may in general be asserted, that most of our best varieties of fruits, particularly apples and pears, were brought into the island by ecclesiastics in the days of monastic splendour and luxury, during the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries. Gardens and orchards (horti et pomaria) are frequently mentioned in the earliest chartularies extant; and of the orchards many traces still remain in different parts of the country, in the form, not only of enclosure-walls, and prepared fruit-tree borders, but of venerable pear-trees, some of them still abundantly fruitful, and others in the last stage of decay. Of the state of horticulture previous to the beginning of the sixteenth century, however, no distinct record exists. About that time it began to be cultivated in England, and at more recent periods in Scotland and Ireland.