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.
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.
It still bears fruit. 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.
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. http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/1d6/deans-jane