Wales

First pineapple grown for 100 years in Welsh hothouse

This pineapple is believed to be the first grown in Wales for 100 years
Image caption This pineapple is believed to be the first grown in Wales for 100 years

A pineapple has been grown in a traditional hothouse in Wales for the first time in 100 years.

Pineapples are difficult to grow in the UK and they were a bigger challenge in the 18th and 19th Centuries before the development of central heating.

But gardeners in Pembrokeshire have grown the fruit at the recently-restored Victorian pineapple house at Scolton Manor, near Haverfordwest.

"It has given us a lot of pleasure," said head gardener Simon Richards.

Pineapples need warm temperatures to grow and the biggest exporter of the fruit is Costa Rica, which produces more than 2.9m tonnes a year.

Christopher Columbus was the first European to discover the pineapple on the explorer's voyage to the Caribbean in 1493 but they did not reach the UK until the 1600s.

Image caption The pineapple house at Scolton Manor has been refurbished
Image caption Scolton Manor's walled garden includes a special house for growing pineapples

Mr Richards said: "Once pineapples are harvested, they only last a couple of days.

"But because they are such an exotic fruit, the aristocracy at the time were very keen to have fresh pineapples so they had to try and produce them in this country."

He said pineapple plants take about two years to grow and "need very warm temperatures the whole time you're growing them".

Mr Richards added: "So to keep them at least 15 degrees centigrade for two years was a challenge and needed huge investment for owners of these grand country homes.

"They built hothouses or pineries."

Image copyright Geograph/Paul Farmer
Image caption The Grade II listed Scolton Manor was occupied by the Higgon family from 1842

Work began to rebuild the walled gardens at the old Scolton Manor, a country house museum owned by Pembrokeshire council, in 2013 - and that included the specialist pineapple house.

The pinery has furnaces sunk into the ground to heat the earth around the fruit and encourage growth.

Mr Richards added: "The pineapples need high humidity so we come in and create mist in the house so it makes a great growing environment. It's all steamy and warm.

"We're thrilled with the outcome and we're hoping for more summer weather to keep boosting its growth so they are full size by the autumn."

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