The Netherlands only has four foliage corridors (berceaus) with pears. The foliage corridor in Hendrik Ido Ambacht is the longest with 550 (!) Meters and 1100 trees. When you are at the beginning, you only see the end in the distance. Even within all of Europe there is no longer fruit tree berceau. The berceau in Hendrik Ido Ambacht is therefore truly unique.
The pear berceau is located in a green nature reserve. There is a natural pond halfway down the foliage. Birds chirp there a lot. Most deciduous trees have been replaced with new plantings. On the northeast side of the berceau are most of the old fruit trees , planted in 1920. The trunks of these trees are 15 cm thick, and the bark has impressive grooves of 1 cm deep.
The pear berceau recalls the heyday of fruit growing in the area. Originally there was a railway (narrow gauge) under the berceau. The owner at the time, fruit grower Speelman, used lorries to transport his crates of harvested fruit.
One visitor, a somewhat older man, told me that the foliage corridor was often used by churchgoers in earlier times to go to church on Sundays. “Then they didn’t have to cycle; using the car on Sunday was not allowed! ” The church is still there, on the northeast side of the berceau.
Restoration of the structure
The metal structure has been completely renewed. The berceau is made of galvanized T-profiles and strips flat steel . For one arch element, 2 T-profiles have been inserted into the ground, at a distance of about 4 meters from each other. The T-profiles protrude approximately 180 cm above ground level. An arc-shaped T-profile (semicircle) is screwed to the ends of these T-profiles (with pieces of flat steel as connecting pieces). The 140 arches are screwed together at three points with flat steel: on both sides of the foliage aisle (at a height of 180 cm) and at the very top of the ridge. Between the first two arch elements is a cross brace of flat steel, for stability. The distance between 2 arc elements is not the same everywhere. The number of trees between 2 arch elements varies from 3 to 6, with a planting distance of approx. 50 cm.
Pear is a cross-pollinator : you need to plant several varieties for good fruit set. Old standard pear varieties have been used for the restoration of the foliage, such as: ‘Conference’, ‘Triomphe de Vienne’ and ‘Bonne Louise d’Avranches’. These were also grown in the Netherlands in earlier times.
These historic fruit tree varieties have been carefully selected from the hundreds of varieties available. They have been chosen for their suitability as espaliers: they have a moderate vigor and form ‘ short wood ‘.
- " Bonne Louise d" Avranches "is a small, slender serving pear, green with a nice blush. The ripening period is mid-September. The cultivar produces good quality fruits, with a mildly sour taste and good aroma. One of the finest eating pears. Also suitable as a cooking pear and pastry spear. As a stewed pear, the pear naturally turns white-yellow to yellow; not red. Requires a sheltered and not too dry place. The variety is less susceptible to disease on quince rootstock.
- ‘ Conference ‘ grows in almost any soil type. Naturally grows very healthy (little susceptible to disease) and produces good fruiting every year. This eating pear is also suitable as a cooking pear, but then turns white-yellow to yellow. Flowers are partly self-pollinating. The tree does require a lot of pruning (thinning) and the fruits are somewhat sensitive to rust.
- ‘ Triomphe de Vienne ‘ can give a high yield, but the yield can fluctuate annually. This cultivar is easy to grow. This serving pear is also suitable for stewing, but will then remain white in color. Compared to other varieties, it is very susceptible to pear fire. The fruits should not be harvested too early.
Every year in August, picking days are organized for residents of the De Volgerlanden district.
A hand pear that you want to use as a cooking pear is best harvested not completely ripe. Because ripe (soft) pears easily disintegrate during cooking.
I visited the berceau in its prime, early May, on a weekday, mid-afternoon. I didn’t expect to run into anyone at this local attraction . but in half an hour I ran into 5 other visitors.
The berceau is at its best at the beginning of May (during flowering, which lasts a few weeks) and in August (just before the pear harvest). The berceau fruit trees are freely accessible; you can walk underneath the berceau through a gate.
The berceau with pears could well become an idyllic location for weddings : first a walk through the berceau and then get married in the neighboring church. The berceau is also suitable for wedding photography , especially for people with ‘roots’ in fruit growing.
The municipality of Hendrik Ido Ambacht has purchased the berceau as a special cultural-historical heritage , with the intention of including it as a walking route through Vinexwijk De Volgerlanden. Initially there were plans to include Perenlaantje in a golf course. Later, the municipality decided to use the area for housing. Around 3,000 more homes will be built around the foliage. It is unclear whether the berceau can then be preserved.
Route and accessibility
The Pear lane ‘Perenlaantje’ is located in the eastern part of new-build neighborhood De Volgerlanden in Hendrik Ido Ambacht, between the Vrouwgelenweg and the Veersedijk. Part of the Perenlaantje is built up with houses. The berceau is accessible from 2 sides: via the north-east side (Perenlaantje) and via the south-west side (Laan van Welhorst).
The Perenlaantje is easy to find with car navigation or route planner. On the northeast side, it is close to the De Volgerlanden health center, which is indicated by signs along the road. Walk through the built-up part of Perenlaantje and cross the intersection with the Vrouwgelenweg straight across; via a footbridge over the ditch and a path of wood chips you reach the berceau after 75 meters. If you come from the southwest side, you can already see the berceau from the Laan van Welhorst.
Pear lane Ursulin garden
There is still a second Pear lane!
In the Ursulin garden of Sittard (Limburg) there is a similar berceau of pear trees, several dozen meters long. The berceau was built around 1910 by the Sisters of the Ursuline Monastery and originally had 6 cultivars. Some of the fruit trees have been replaced over the years by new plantings.
Since 1993, this lane has been part of a public city garden. In 2015, the Perenlaantje received the prize of "Fruit Tree of the Year", awarded by Pomologisch Genootschap Limburg a>.