The oldest exotic tree

Yesterday I poached pears and made a pear cake using pears from my neighbour’s tree. Pears without peach and plum

With my mouth and my mind very involved with pears, I decided that, today, I would visit the oldest exotic tree in Christchurch, and that tree happens to be a pear tree.

Here it is; the French Durondeau Pear tree planted in 1846.Durondeau Pear 1846

It was planted by the Deans brothers in their flourishing orchard in the grounds of Riccarton House. Only, at that time, there was no Riccarton House, just the Deans Cottage which was built in 1843.  The Deans supplied fruit and vegetables and young trees to the main body of settlers who arrived in 1850.

I find it hard to believe that the Durondeau is so old. Not only older than other exotic trees but older than most of our buildings.  To my eyes, it remains vigorous and strong.  Looking good

It still bears fruit.Pears in a pear tree I picked up one of the free fall pears.  I hope it will ripen. I am curious to know what it will taste like. Many of the other trees planted by the Deans, including John’s wife, Jane,  are still flourishing and are now notable and protected trees.Care for the Trees please

The story of John and Jane Deans is a lovely, but sad, one for Valentine’s Day. They met in Scotland prior to 1841 near Jane’s family home at Auchenflower. John came to New Zealand in 1842. Ten years later he returned to Scotland to marry Jane at  Riccarton, Ayrshire, Scotland. They left Scotland in October 1852 and arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand, in February 1853. Jane gave birth to their only child in August 1853. Her husband John, died in June 1854.  Jane could have returned to Scotland but she stayed on, and with support from her family, continued to develop Riccarton house and farm and carry out her husband’s wishes for the preservation of Riccarton Bush. She was a remarkable woman.

© silkannthreades


22 thoughts on “The oldest exotic tree

  1. vsperry

    She was a remarkable woman and imagine how she would have felt to know that all these years later, you are still enjoying the “fruits of her labor”…

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, she was amazing and I think she knew she was starting something that would last the ages. I have been thinking more about your sister’s work. I think she (and you) would enjoy all the public art work that is filling the spaces in our broken city; the projects are called ‘Gap Fillers’. If we had lost trees, your sister’s project would have been perfect for our city too.

  2. lensandpensbysally

    I love pears and your post is a delicious early morning treat. What a joyful day to bring all your experiences together into a luscious pear cake. Yummy.

  3. kiwiskan

    You might be interested to know that I have a letter of reference written by John Deans in 1897 for my granddad, Robert Wilkinson, who was employed by him for milking and general farm work.

  4. Mrs. P

    I saw your post this morning just as I was heading off to work and I have to say, it looked so delicious! Fascinating facts about this very old pear tree. I loved the perspective you gave of comparing it to the buildings around you. What a lovely, yet sad story. Great little outing after a day of baking! Yum!

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Glad you enjoyed my post. It was a lovely, lovely outing. The cicadas were singing, the sun was shining, the surroundings beautiful; what more could you want?

      1. Mrs. P

        I can’t believe you said the cicadas were singing…like it was a good thing. People around hear can’t stand the sound of them “singing” all night long. You made me laugh!

        1. Gallivanta Post author

          That’s too funny. Perhaps they sound good because we don’t get to hear them too often. Or perhaps it’s because I am getting a little deaf.

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