Although not brother and sister, the Medlar and Quince are certainly as closely related as first cousins. They are also two fruits that are almost never available to buy in any shop. Well, not in their raw form anyway.
From a gardener’s point of view, they are two of the easiest fruits to grow, cropping each year as regular as clockwork.
Both fruits were brought to our shores by the Romans who prized them for their medicinal use. They're good for the water works apparently?! They are long-lived trees and two of the very best for architectural interest in the garden.
The trees are both quite dwarfing in their habit and with a little attention, a tree of ten years can easily be maintained to one metre high. They have the loveliest pale pink blossom which unfurl in a spiral and are a delight to watch as the sun hits the trees. The leaf of Quince is a perfect shade of pale green in spring, becoming dark green and rounded as the year progresses. The Medlar, however, is almost the complete opposite, having a long leathery leaf which is almost unique in the fruit world. Both trees have great character with gnarled branches and stems. Even after just two or three years, their autumn leaves are every shade of yellow you can imagine.
The fruits of both are unique too. The Quince, large golden yellow and covered in the softest down. The Medlar is perfectly round, dark brown with a very prominent open 'eye'.
Their flavours hark back to earlier times, with quince being used to add zest to any apple dish or jelly, whilst the Medlar after 'bletting' (a term referring to the way they ripen), make the most memorable cheeses, jams, jellies and pastes.
If it is the unusual and attractive that you want for your Terrace, then do try both Medlar and Quince.