A poignancy of pears

Woodend has exploded into pear blossom.  I’m temporarily charmed.

Lets get one thing out of the way that’s irrelevant to the argument, but I’d feel dishonest if I didn’t mention.  I’m no fan of ornamental pears.  I feel a bit churlish about it, but there it is.  They can be fabulous in autumn, charming in spring, and incredibly forgiving in the summer.  But I just can’t love that congested angular branching.  It’s brittle, and looks it.

Yesterday I loved them.  The house where I drop my kids off for the bus (above) is buried in them, and yesterday it was suspended in a haze of blossom, as if floating in a great, buoyant cloud of flowers.  It may have been like that for a day or two, but not much more.  Today I’ve gone back there to take a pic, and there’s heaps of green leaf amongst the flowers.  The flowers are still conspicuous to the eye, but the camera leans towards leaves.

My initial reaction was to ponder the total ridiculousness of a tree that is at its best for three or four days.  But that lead (as it usually does, for me) to the counter-argument:  isn’t it better to have three or four days of thrill than no thrill at all?  There’s loads of medium sized trees to choose from, but they tend to fall into two categories: those that provide a short but intense blast of pleasure, and those that provide a longer period of mild enjoyment, with longevity peaking at twelve months of mediocrity.  Which would you rather?  And why not have both?

another pear-house in Woodend

But back to my head-talk, in the second or two it took to hang a u-turn out the front of the house in pear-float: It’s one thing to be indignant (as I thought I was), and another to be just plain disappointed that the great moment is over.  The former might stop me growing it, or even enjoying it.  The latter would have me set up camp beneath it – to reserve a space under its light-filled canopy like the Japanese during cherry blossom time, in order to grasp hold of every moment of joy.

But in typical aussie bloke style, I can’t stand to think I’ve been fooled.  Is a bit of indignation in order? Is it – and is all blossom – just too brief?


  1. Lovely read , but poignancy has only one “n”.

    1. Thanks, Julie. Must remember to proof-read the titles as well as the posts!

  2. Sorry two “n’s but not before the g….

  3. I do echo your opinion, Michael..the pear blossom in Woodend is not nearly as disappointing as that in Sydney, where the climate just isn’t quite right, and the blossom is not often exciting. I have to admit, though, that I get a thrill in autumn as I drive around the corner coming home, with the stunning foliage colour in two of my neighbourhood gardens. That is when pear trees make their mark for me, but they don’t get a guernsey in my own patch!

    1. Yeah, stick ’em in the ‘nice from the car’ category. Let our neighbours grow them!
      Actually, that’s not a bad idea. Give your neighbours presents of all the trees that you wouldn’t quite give space to yourself. Might try that.

  4. Well I’m sitting here waiting for my weeping something or other to explode into blossom.. it’s sat here all winter looking like a gnarled old crone in the middle of the lawn, I can’t say I even notice it in summer… it just sits there waiting to poke you in the eye as you duck under it to pluck out a weed or take a look at something more interesting in the garden. It’s not wide enough to sit under, or high enough to walk under.. it’s saving grace is that it’s stout enough to see over.. but it’s about to redeem it’self with a week of extravagance and white lacy overblown romantacisim when it finally decides it’s sprin!… so I couldn’t even imagine parting with it ugly nasty thing it is for 50 weeks of the year because it is just so beautiful for those fleeting two!! Sorry I can’t even say what kind of thing it is… maybe weeping cherry? It’s a white blossom!

    1. And now, when I’m finally getting around to replying to all these (following yet another ADSL crisis), the moment will have passed. Was it worthwhile? Did you remember to visit it several times a day?

  5. I have them pleached in my garden and I curse them when I have to work to prune and train, and at the moment, after the hard work, I love them for their structure. I guess they have become the “iceberg rose” of the trees, but I’m stuck with them – yes, a love/hate relationship – more love though than dislike.

    1. And a love/hate relationship is infinitely better than one of apathy and disengagement. You know you’re in trouble when too many of the plants in your garden fall into this category

  6. Do you think it comes down to the amount of space available,Michael? When I gardened on a tiny block I wasn’t prepared to give over any space to a magnolia, much as I love them, just because their two week glory simply wasn’t enough to warrant looking at leaves and bare branches for the other fifty. Now I have the luxury of a couple of acres and have planted a grove of ten, the theory being that I can enjoy their brief extravagant display and leave them to their leafy devices for the rest of the year..agree with you on the ornamental pears tho, underwhelming and over planted..

    1. Yep, Lee, I reckon you’re right. Space invariably increases the tolerance of these highly seasonal, passing pleasures, but as you’ve no doubt discovered, it doesn’t do anything to change the necessary balance of ephemeral vs permanent effect. That proportion, which depends on so many factors, including climate, personal tolerance, planting style etc is something that it looks like I’ll need a couple more lifetimes to really get a grip on.

  7. And a dull horticultural world it would be if all our perceptions weren’t subjective… & we should respect everyone’s point of view. Is it not about just the practical value but also how they make you feel? Agree with the oversaturation of cultivars, but geez I feel just so good sitting under my grid of Pyrus nivalis – any time of the year.

    1. Well said, and in order to jump on board – possibly too late – Pyrus nivalis is the one I’d choose also, if I had to.
      And as to subjectivity – just tell me “geez, I feel so good sitting under..” (beside, nearby – whatever) any particular plant, and any critical assessment of that plant is totally trumped.

  8. Wine fill fix the way you’re feeling – I promise, and it could be far worse, it could be a bed of pink and red Cordylines you’re looking at while you’re waiting for the kid’s bus.
    A short burst of blossomy pleasure is preferable to none at all…

    1. You’re so right, Michael. Twelve months of static, emphatic mediocrity is far worse that a passing pleasure, no matter how brief. Red cordylines – the very essence of intolerable worthiness

  9. Pears may have become ubiquitous in street planting, but i think they offer more charm and interest than the job lot of Christmas tree shaped larchy things my local council has acquired. I loved the mature fruiting pears I inherited in a previous garden, gorgeous clean blossom with those surprising red anthers, elegant branches reaching down after years of fruit bearing, fresh green leaves and shade for hellebores in summer, brilliant colours from soft yellow through scarlet and glossy maroon in autumn — good for children to climb and the dogs enjoyed the windfalls

    1. your poetry compels me to show more grace..

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