This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Several articles have lately appeared in the Gardener's Monthly, with regard to this Pear, which I think is deserving of the notice taken of it. Thirty-six years ago I got a tree of it, with some other kinds, from Messrs. Ellwanger & Barry, and it is now the sole survivor of the lot. I do not mean to say by this that there is any unoccupied space in my little orchard.
The Nelis has some distinct characteristics. In growth it cannot be called a shapely tree. Some branches shoot upwards, while others have a tendency to droop and become bushy. A proper application of the pruning knife is the remedy for this.
The tree is profuse in its flowering, yet (with me) seldom sets more than a proper amount of fruit. Occasionally a branch or two will require thinning. The fruit matures here at latest period that is safe for it to hang on the tree and escape frost. After being kept five or six weeks it is fit for the table; and may be classified among the fine grained, juicy, sweet varieties, very good, and oftentimes among the best. The predominant color is yellowish green, but many specimens have a rich russet at mellow maturity. It has generally lasted with me until about the 20th of November; and I began to doubt if my tree was the winter or autumn Nelis, until this year, when the fruit promises to keep until the 1st of March. The fruit this season was large, many specimens weighing ten ounces, a larger portion weighing eight.
The fruit on being placed in a dry room had a tendency to wilt, and this seems to have been the case with much of the fruit this season in New England. On being placed in a box in a very damp cellar, without straw or paper wraps, the fruit has kept nicely, can be brought into eating condition in a few days when exposed to a warmer temperature, and as noted above will keep three months longer than usual. What occasions this is an interesting question.
Seckel Pears were abundant here this season but not up to the usual standard of excellence, while Sheldon's were fair in form, and of high flavor.
We made a note of the superior reputation the Winter Nelis Pear had achieved about Rochester. The ink was scarcely dry before a sample came to hand from Ell-wanger & Barry, and they were indeed worthy of all that had been said about them. With them were samples of Josephine de Malines, and the Jones' Seedling, also remarkably fine. We believe E. & B. were chiefly instrumental in making the last known, and it surely does credit to their good judgment.
Chas. A. Green finds that this does not succeed farther East than Rochester.
"A. H.," Meadville, Pa., writes: "When I wrote to you about the keeping of the Winter Nelis Pear, having kept it some three months longer than usual under conditions stated, I hoped to have had a private opportunity to send you some samples of my best specimens, but the opportunity failed to come, and the best fruit was among the earliest to mature. I, however, venture to send you by mail a fair medium sized specimen to show that part of the crop has kept even longer than I anticipated. A day or two in a warm room will bring it into eating condition, when I hope you will find it as represented in my former note. With kind regards and best wishes for a satisfactory season with you".
[This pear proved to be delicious, excelling even the superior fruit of Rochester. It is very useful to know in what localities the varieties of fruit do especially well. - Ed. G. M].