March in England and the peach seems an impossibly distant and exotic fruit, its heady summer aroma almost unimaginable. Out of season peaches always disappoint and the sickly syrupy sweetness of the tinned fruit is altogether different.
But late March in Suffolk and peach trees, most of them tight against a south-facing wall for warmth, are in bloom. After the modest white blossom of the early flowering cherry plum, the lurid pink of the peach is a herald of the nectar sweet summer fruit.
The peach, Prunus persica, has been cultivated in Mediterranean Europe for thousands of years. Once thought to be of Persian origin, it’s now known to be native to China. Even so, it produces superb fruit in favourable conditions even as far north as England.