One of the themes of the year
is multi-season and multi-use plants, plants that provide different pleasures
at different seasons. In fact I've written a whole book on the subject, and
it's just out.
This impressive little peach,
‘Crimson Bonfire' (left, click to enlarge), has two distinct and valuable features in addition to its
succulent fruits. The fruits themselves are dark red, almost purple, and gold in colour taking the
tones of their colouring from the foliage.
And the leaves are such an impressive
deep burgundy colouring, almost black at times, that ‘Crimson Bonfire' is worth
growing as a foliage plant. And then there are the flowers, sweetly scented
pink blossoms that open later than the flowers of most peaches and so are less
likely to be damaged by frosty.
Although ‘Crimson Bonfire' will
set fruits without being pollinated, brushing a little pollen from flower to
flower - a kids' painting brush is ideal - will improve fruit set greatly. The
juicy fruits ripen in late August and early September, and what a treat to pick
them off your own patio tree.
Completely hardy down to
-15C/5F, though definitely benefiting from shelter, ‘Crimson Bonfire' is
grafted on to a dwarfing rootstock and reaches about 5ft/1.5m in five years. I
asked Martin Rowe of You Garden about that dwarfing rootstock. "Our plants are grafted
on an old Spanish rootstock that our growers will not tell us about - all these
dwarf types for gardens are a bit like the Colonel's secret recipe!"
Martin also pointed out that,
as with most varieties of peach, leaf curl can be a problem. He recommends keeping
the foliage dry, perhaps with fleece or by careful siting of the plant.
‘Crimson Bonfire' is not
brand new. You Garden came across it in Germany a couple of years ago, but I
missed it when it first appeared and it seems to have escaped the attention of
many other gardeners.
Dwarf patio peach ‘Crimson
Bonfire' is available from You Garden, and from Pomona Fruits, and from Blackmoor