Taste of the tropics
11 Jun 2010
It’s not just flowers thriving at Aberglasney this summer – an abundance of exotic fruits are adding a taste of the tropics to the Carmarthenshire gardens.
Succulent oranges, luscious bananas and some pocket-sized pineapples have all been flourishing in recent weeks.
The oranges are grown in pots in the Cloister Garden and are protected from the weather by the ancient high stone walls which also help retain the heat at night. They are moved under cover once the frosts of winter set in.
Aberglasney’s bananas have been a talking point since the trees were planted five years ago in the unique Ninfarium garden created within the ruinous courtyard of the historic mansion. The sultry climate is perfect for the bananas as well as exotic magnolias, orchids and the odd palm tree or two.
Previous crops of oranges and bananas have been used in some exquisite ice cream flavours in conjunction with local artisan confectioners, Heavenly of Llandeilo.
This year’s jungle theme has been further enhanced with the acquisition of six pineapple plants, also housed in the Ninfarium.
Aberglasney’s director of operations, Graham Rankin, said the tropical attractions are a big hit with visitors.
“Because a lot of the fruit we eat comes from distant lands, many people, particularly children, don’t know what sort of plant they grow on,” he said. “The banana plants have been growing at Aberglasney since 2005 and have in the past been turned into ice-cream.
“The plants that usually surprise visitors are the pineapples; for some strange reason most people think they grow on trees, where in fact they are bromeliads that grow near to the ground.
“This is the first time we have grown pineapples at Aberglasney and we hope they will taste as nice as the crop of bananas we have had in the past.”
The beautiful Bird of Paradise flower, the Strelitzia reginae, is also adding a touch of paradise to the Welsh gardens. The brightly coloured blue and orange flower with its evergreen leaves resembles a bird’s peak.
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