From little saplings history is made

Tuesday 11 September 2018

Royal Horticultural Society course students at Shuttleworth College have saved the historical lineage of an ancient pear tree in Warwickshire due to be destroyed by the HS2 train line.

The pear tree is believed to have been growing near the village of Cubbington for 250 years and may be the oldest in the UK. It was voted the Tree of the Year in 2015 by the Woodland Trust amid the HS2 controversy.

Now horticulture students have propagated 20 saplings from the original which will be planted around the village near Leamington Spa this autumn. Further trees will be created by chip budding and bench grafting at the College at Old Warden in Bedfordshire in the coming academic year. 

SaplingsShuttleworth College’s expert in this field is RHS Tutor Paul Labous who said: “This has been a wonderful opportunity for our students to be involved in rescuing some of the heritage of our our nation’s horticulture. The project combined perfecting highly skilled practical techniques together embracing an understanding of the historical significance of fruit tree farming in the UK.

Paul has been involved in the revival of “Shakespeare’s Pear” the Warden, which has won much acclaim.

In 2016 Shuttleworth College celebrated winning a Heritage Lottery Fund grant for its “Bedfordshire Old Warden Pear: Identification by DNA testing, Propagation and Bedding Out” Project.

Shuttleworth College which is located in the village of Old Warden, Bedfordshire has received a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant. This exciting project, “The Bedfordshire Old Warden Pear: Identification by DNA testing, Propagation and Bedding Out”, at the Old Warden site, and led by Paul Labous, RHS Tutor, has been given £8,400 towards identifying the original Old Warden Pear from different varieties, using DNA testing, and exploring the heritage of the pear and its associations with the village of Old Warden.

The aim of this project is to research the origin of the local culinary Warden Pear, believed to have first been grown at the Cistercian Abbey near to the village of Old Warden in Bedfordshire, circa 1388.

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