Tatton celebrates its first majestic pineapple crop
The only garden and property in the country with a traditional working pineapple house, Tatton Park celebrated the revival of the Great British pineapple by welcoming Councillor George Walton, Mayor of Cheshire East Council, who was presented with the first of hopefully many pineapple crops from the pinery.
This highly prized fruit was greatly valued in the 18th century (around £5,000 in today’s cash!). Known as ‘The King of Fruits’ it was duly celebrated when Tatton re-created a historical scene from the late 1600s when Charles II was presented with the first pineapple cultivated on English soil by his gardener John Rose – Councillor George Walton, who also chairs the Tatton Park board, was presented with Tatton’s pineapple by gardener John Hoxworth who is responsible for the pineapple house.
It is over a hundred years since the last pineapple crop was grown at Tatton – imported fruit killed their social status – and in time the pinery became a vinery and then gradually fell into disrepair. Thanks to £2.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the former Cheshire County Council (now Cheshire East Council) the National Trust and Cheshire Rural Enterprise Tatton’s six-acre walled kitchen gardens have been gradually restored to their halcyon days. The pinery represented the last phase of this restoration designed and built in the footprint of the 1774 original with the help of old plans and archaeological excavation.
The pinery was officially opened in 2007 by Sophie, Countess of Wessex. Two years on saw another milestone when the first pineapple was produced after a labour intensive propagation process, and now five years on, Tatton celebrates its first fully functioning crop.
Pineapple cultivation involves the rotation of three bays for planting, growing and maturing the fruit. They are grown in the traditional way in a pot on a special mixture of oak–leaf compost which creates the same levels of heat as tanner’s bark, a waste product from the tanning industry, originally used when growing pineapple but now no longer available. The complex process which sees a little slip turn into a full plant can take up to three years and requires a combination of heat and humidity for successful germination and growth.
As Tatton’s head gardener, Simon Tetlow, explained, “from set up, to establishing a full crop it has taken five years! But it has been well worth the wait, and we hope to soon be growing as many as 300 pineapples a year, which will supply Tatton’s Garden Shop and restaurant”
Visitors can see the pineapples in the pinery during a visit to the gardens.
For the remainder of 2012 the gardens are open from Tuesday to Sunday 10am – 4pm (last entry 3pm). Adult £5.50, Child £3.50, Family £14.50. Car entry £5.