A fruit tree or bush is worth its weight in gold in the garden, providing ornamental value all year round, an annual supply of delicious fruit, as well as food and shelter for wildlife. We caught up with Monty Don to discover his pick of edible fruit crops – including gooseberries, pears and even quince – which can be grown in even the smallest of gardens.
Blackcurrant ‘Boskoop Giant’
Plants grow up to 1.8m and bear sweet berries from July. Best suited to large, sheltered plots.
A bowl of blackcurrants picked from the bush
Gooseberry ‘Whinham’s Industry’
Grows well in shade and on heavy soil. It forms red berries that are ready to pick in late-July.
Red ‘Whinham’s Industry’ gooseberries ripening on the bush
Raspberry ‘Malling Jewel’
An early fruiting raspberry that crops from the beginning of July, this variety bears firm, luscious, dark-red berries in small clusters. It also has good tolerance to virus infections.
Picking raspberries from the bush
Redcurrant ‘Laxton’s Number One’
Strong growing, good flavoured and high yielding. The strings of currants usually ripen in mid-July and are a glossy red.
Freshly picked strings of redcurrants
Strawberry ‘Mara des Bois’
A cross between modern and wild strawberries, it has the advantage of fruiting from July to October, rather than just June and July. Berries are small, but tasty.
Ripe and unripe strawberries on their plant
Whitecurrant ‘Versailles Blanche’
Differing from redcurrants only in colour, this very reliable white version has pleasantly sweet, clear juice. It makes a vigorous, upright bush, and is a heavy cropper.
Strings of whitecurrants ripening on the bush
A sour or acid cherry with dark juice. Use for cooking or for jam.
Crab apple Malus x zumi var. calocarpa ‘Golden Hornet’
The decorative yellow fruits can be cooked to make jelly.
Rosy crab apples ready to harvest
A reliable variety, and produces a high yield of white-fleshed, juicy, crimson-skinned fruit.
Peaches ripening on the tree
Pear ‘Doyenne du Comice’
The best tasting dessert pear. Grow near ‘Beth’ or ‘Concorde’ to ensure pollination and cropping.
Heavy crops of the large pink and yellow fruit ripen in late August. This variety is self-fertile, so can be grown on its own.
Freshly plucked ‘Victoria’ plums
Fig ‘Brown Turkey’
This is the hardiest, most reliable and heaviest cropping fig in northern Europe.
Figs ripening on a fig tree
This fruit has a unique, subtle fragrance that will perfume the garden before it’s eaten. It can be made into jellies and, when combined with apples, used as a pie-filling. Quince trees will grow up to 3.7m tall.
Yellow quinces on their tree