DAMSONS & GAGES
Less popular than plums, damson and gages are the two opposites of the plum family. Damsons (and the close relation, the Bullace) have the tart, acid flavour that make excellent jams , preserves and pies. A few varieties can just about be eaten fresh if allowed to fully ripen. The trees are hardy, growing in places that would not suit a plum and are often planted as a hedgerow tree. Gages on the other hand are far more fussy than a plum, requiring a warm and sunny site, better still fan them out on a warm sunny wall. The trials garden did have four large fan trained gage trees in the open on wires. Every spring they would flower profusely but fail to crop satisfactorily even though they were closely matched for pollination. These have been removed and plums planted in their place. Damson can be treated as self fertile like many plums.
Gages, however, can be a real minefield as regards pollination so self fertile ones are best
Rootstocks are the same as plums, VVA1 (Pixy has fallen out of favour), for dwarf trees bushes and fans and St Julian A for larger specimens.
It's worth noting that Damsons often make a smaller, more compact tree than many plums on the same rootstock
Choice of Rootstocks
VVA1 (Pixy is now discontinued)
For more compact Fan trained trees or larger bushes. Minimum wall height 6 feet and width 10 feet for fan training
St JULIAN A
For larger fan trained and free standing trees
VARIETIES GROWN IN THE TRIALS GARDEN (OR NURSERY)
Picks end of August
A new introduction found as a chance seedling in Hampshire. All the usual culinary attributes but one the can be eaten fresh as well.
Damson Langley Bullace
Small round, blue black fruit.
A large plum sized damson which can be eaten fresh. relaible and heavy crops.
Damson Shropshire Prune
A midlands variety with intense flavour, reliable and makes a good, small, hedgerow tree.
Gage Old Green Gage
partially self fertile
Excellent old fashioned flavour and more reliable cropping than most.
Gage Oullins Golden Gage
a good one for bottling and freezing
Quite large greenish yellow fruit with good flavour.