Horticulturalists at Cornwall’s Lost Gardens of Heligan have re-created tropical conditions, using small greenhouses, and heated using a chemical reaction between 30 tonnes of manure, urine and piles of straw.
The gardens originally grew pineapples in this way in the 19th century, and began to do so again after a recent restoration. The 19th century originals were actually rented out to rich families to use as dinner table decorations!
The bad news is these pineapples do not come cheap, and as far as we know are the most expensive pieces of fruit ever to be grown. The developing botanists claim these pieces of fruit cost £1200 each to grow, and will be sold at a mind-boggling £10,000 each! This cost comes as a consequence of it’s rarity, production values and it’s unique growth location.
Eight of these rare pineapples are being cultivated at present, but despite the high value of the fruit, the pineapple will not be sold, but cut up, and shared between garden staff.
A Lost Gardens spokesman, James Stephens described the pineapple as “deliciously sweet, not stringy, and with an explosive flavour”.
“In an ideal world we would use 90 tonnes of horse manure… but it is incredibly expensive, and hard to source in these kinds of quantities … we have struggled to get good manure this year so we have had to use electric heaters…If it was sold on the open market or an auction, we believe they would fetch up to £10000.”
Robin Parker, of Gabriel Parker opined:
“This is a very unusual story, and whilst the cost and production methods are enough to put anyone off, these are the kinds of projects that push horticulture forward. Sort of an artistic statement – of no real use, but I’m sure nobody else will be attempting such a feat. I think it serves as a reminder to us that greenhouses can be a place of experimentation and artistic expression.”
The pineapples are grown in a 4-ft deep trench in a 40ft-long “pineapple pit” section of the botanical gardens. They are developed under the manure and regularly soaked in horse urine.