TV records Shakespeare history at Shuttleworth

Tuesday 17 February 2015

Saving Shakespeare’s pear from extinction has led to TV coverage for Shuttleworth College.

Lecturer Paul Labous was featured on the BBC when he and team donated two Warden Pear trees to Jordan’s Mill nearby in Central Bedfordshire.

The story had first hit the headlines locally when thanks to a grafting technique Shuttleworth College students had brought the pear tree, mentioned in A Winter’s Tale, back from the brink.

2013 story:

Students at Shuttleworth College are making sure that a pear that dates back to Shakespeare’s time and is mentioned in “A Winter’s Tale” is around for future generations.  Warden Pear is famously cooked in red wine to produce a pie that was a favourite in Shakespeare’s time and may have given him inspiration to write plays or sonnets!

Paul Labous, Lecturer in Horticulture at Shuttleworth College, explained that after receiving a request from the Mike Marshall of the Old Warden Parish Council to propagate the historic pears, he came up with the idea of “grafting” to give students a unique skill and to preserve the line of pears.  He says:

“The mother trees at Shuttleworth produce the magnificent Warden Pears that date back to the 13C but with only five trees producing the pears it was time to increase the stock.”

“Grafting the plants takes patience and skill but the results can be seen in 30 baby pear trees now growing.  The trees will be tended until they reach sufficient height and strength to produce pears in about 3 years time.”

“The skill of grafting is becoming a lost art in the UK as more plants are imported but it is important to keep the historic line of the Warden Pear as an example of what can be done to save ‘endangered’ plants from extinction.”

2014  update: The historic Warden Pear has now branched out beyond Old Warden Park where it was saved from extinction.  One tree was donated to the Pear Tree Piece development in the village and others were shared with villagers.  Another has been donated to the famous Princess Penshurst Gardens in Kent.
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