I have an eight year old, self sown tree grown from some peaches I brought home from the Charente Maritime in France.
It is thriving in the open at the far end of my Oxfordshire garden which is four hundred feet above sea level and is quite exposed though protected by some tall trees to the north of my garden.
Last autumn it fruited for the first time and I harvested forty kilos of fruit or 60 lbs. They were of excellent quality.
To my sheer delight the tree survived our brutal winter without any sign whatsoever of frost damage. To my even greater delight, I have, from mid September 2010 onwards, harvested a mammoth crop of over 60 kilos/85 lbs. of splendid fruit.
I hope that this might be of interest and encouragement to many gardeners as I am totally convinced that this tree is completely hardy. It needs no wall protection and it certainly does not require any 'hand pollination'. Just visit the south of France and buy some purple peche de vigne in the local market!
The tree is now quite tall, the height of a standard apple tree, and indeed, to harvest the fruit overhanging my neighbour's garden, I had to cut off an entire branch.
Last winter I planted a row of peach kernels in the shelter of the house and they also survived the harsh winter to produce new, maiden trees which, in spite of this summer's drought, are now 12-14 inches high.
Just how long my good fortune will last is anybodies guess. We have also been lucky that the wasps have not shown any interest in this fruit.
It is customary in the wine areas of France, to plant either rose bushes or peche de vigne trees at the front of each row of vines. This is entirely practical as both the rose and the peach will indicate the presence of fungal infections which are a sign to the fruit grower that it is time for them to spray their vines before they too, are affected.