Located in the Test Valley, Hampshire, Houghton Lodge Gardens are set on the banks of the famous River Test and can now proudly state that they are home to Britain’s widest pear tree!
The gardens are overlooked by a Grade II* listed historic house – a wonderful example of a ‘Cottage Orné’ – and boasts a fantastic walled kitchen garden, home to a heritage orchard with many historic apple and pear trees that were grown over a hundred years ago and bearing fruit that you will no longer find in your local supermarket.
One of the many hidden treasures at Houghton Lodge, and newly recognised for its grandeur, is the espalier Pear Beurre Diel located to the right of the walled garden gate. Spanning the west-facing wall, this magnificent pear tree has an incredible width of 53.6″ long (16.33 meters).
The impressive fruit tree has been recognised by the Champion Tree Register and awarded its status as a Champion Tree. As such it will join the register as the widest of its species in Britain. Champion Trees are, according to the Royal Forestry Society, ‘individual trees which are exceptional examples of their species because of their enormous size, great age, rarity or historical significance’.
Houghton Lodge owner, Sophie Busk said, “As part of my quest to get the pear tree into the Guinness Book of Records, a visitor suggested I contact the Champion Tree Register. When they inspected the tree last August, they stated they had never seen such a wide pear and I was delighted that they made it a Champion Tree.
I decided given its new status to have the tree DNA tested, which revealed it was a Buerre Diel, and not Uvedale St Germaine as we had first thought. This old species of pear loves growing as an espalier, hence why it’s succeeded so well growing against our wall.”
The glorious pear tree was not the only recognised tree in the gardens. The Champion Tree Register also discovered an Acer Cappadocicum ‘Aureum’ (Golden Cappadocian Maple), found in the plantings behind the summer house, which at 15m x 182cm at 0.7m has been awarded the new Hampshire County champion for height and girth. They also identified the lovely Gingko in the yard by the house as being the 4th tallest in Hampshire.
Houghton Lodge Gardens look forward to being able to open their doors to visitors again when it is safe to do so, where they can immerse themselves in this beautiful setting and appreciate the newly awarded status of these glorious trees.