Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Saffron Pear of the Company Gardens

Every spring an ancient tree in Cape Town’s Company Gardens covers itself with beautiful white blossoms to herald in the new season.

The noble old Saffron pear (Pyris communis) was brought to the Cape from Holland in the time of Jan van Riebeeck when the gardens were in the process of being established by master gardener, Hendrick Boor.

The gardens were originally established as a fruit and vegetable garden to provide supplies for ships calling  at the Cape and were later expanded to include an herb and medicinal garden.

Later however, ornamental trees and plants were introduced and the old Saffron pear was the first ornamental tree to be planted in the garden making it the oldest cultivated tree in South Africa.

The original trunk of this magnificent tree eventually succumbed to old age and the four large stems that you see today are suckers that arose after the main trunk died.

In order to preserve this historic icon, major maintenance work was done on the Saffron pear in 1980. This consisted of removing all decomposed material from the four trunks and then treating the cleaned areas with a special sealant. Metal supports were then attached to the trunks to prevent any further damage from the elements.

Many visitors who value the history, peace and beauty of the magnificent Company gardens, spend some time to marvel at the wonderful old Saffron pear and reflect awhile on the 362 years of momentous events that this dignified old tree has survived.
Sophiatown Tree Before 

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