This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The subject of Winter Pears we think will bear much fuller discussions in our horticultural meetings than it has done. We are not perfectly satisfied that the ne plus ultra has yet been discovered, although we have now some most admirable sorts. The Beurre d'Anjou seems to us to have one fault, it is not productive enough. Wherever we go we make close inquiries, and find one general remark, "it does not come up to expectations." In all else it is fine, and brings high prices. The Lawrence is best yet of all late sorts, but it is long in coming into bearing. The Mount Vernon is desirable, but we do not know enough about its bearing qualities. Even the Beurre Bose is a better bearer than the d'Anjou, and yet it is not late enough. The Winter Nelis does not grow everywhere. The Josephine de Malines, and the Doyenne d'Alencon, we believe are much superior. A recent article by John J. Thomas, in the Country Gentleman, gives some hints about their varieties.
Very much depends on the manner in which these fruits are kept, and the fitness of the apartments for storing them. Keep the specimens in as cool a place as possible after they are gathered, and before they are placed in the cellar. A cool out-house, or a suitable apartment in a carriage house, fronting the north, answers a good purpose. A fruit room built above ground on purpose, is best where there are large quantities to be stored; or in the absence of this building, an apartment may be divided off by double boarding in some other building, and covering the boxes in which the fruit is packed with chaff or fine straw.' This protection will often be sufficient until the time has far advanced into December; and there will be no danger till intensely cold weather sets in, and it will be some days before the frost can pass the barrier of double partitions and the thick stratum of chaff. After they go to the cellar, keep the apartment well ventilated and regulated to a low temperature above freezing by a thermometer.
We have mentioned the Anjou as the best early winter pear. If kept in a warm apartment, it will ripen in autumn, even as early as the first of October; but by keeping cool, according to the mode just mentioned, they may be had even as late as the first of the year. There will be some variation in different seasons. We have known the Winter Nelis to ripen fully in November, when the autumn had been warm, but the period was retarded some weeks by keeping the pears in a cool place.
After the Anjou, Winter Nelis and Lawrence, the Josephine de Malines is the best, ripening in January, and keeping till February. Doyenne d'Alencon ripens about the same time, but is not quite so good in quality. It is, however, a hardy tree and good bearer, and is on the whole a desirable sort. The Easter Beurre, when it matures well, will keep into April, and ripen into a delicious fruit, but on the whole it is rather an uncertain sort. Josephine de Malines is poor in some places, but is mostly delicious and excellent. It grows well on quince.
We should not omit the name of the Vicar of Winkfield as an early or mid-winter pear of value. It is a free grower and a prodigious bearer - the fruit large and fair. It is occassionally, when well grown and ripened, of good quality for the table, being pleasant and agreeable, although not rich; but its chief value is for baking and stewing. The principal reason why the fruit is so often poor is that it is allowed to overbear.