A TOURIST attraction in the Test Valley has been awarded a global title for one of its trees.

Houghton Lodge Gardens, in Stockbridge, is celebrating its Champion espaliered pear tree, which has been announced as the Guinness World Record holder for the longest espaliered plant.

The venue welcomed the mayor of the Test Valley, Cllr Alan Dowden and his wife Celia Dowden, to celebrate the milestone and have an exclusive tour of the gardens on Sunday, March 19.

Espaliered plants are trained to grow flat by pruning and tying branches to a frame. The record-breaking pear tree can be found in the walled kitchen garden, which homes a heritage orchard with many other old apple and pear trees that were grown more than 100 years ago and bear fruit which can no longer be found in the local supermarket.

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The Champion espaliered pear tree ‘Beurre Diel' covers the west-facing wall with a width of 16.33m.

Hampshire Chronicle:

Houghton Lodge owner, Sophie Busk, said: "We are delighted that Guinness World Records has announced we have a new world record and that our Champion Pear is officially the longest in the world. This old species of pear loves growing as an espalier, hence why it's succeeded so well growing against our wall. It's a real honour and another reason for visitors to come and visit."

Additionally, The Tree Register discovered an Acer Cappadocicum ‘Aureum' (Golden Cappadocian Maple), found in the plantings behind the summer house, which at 15m times 182cm at 0.7m has been awarded as the Hampshire County champion for height and girth.

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The Register also identified the Gingko in the yard by the house as the fourth tallest in Hampshire.

Houghton Lodge Gardens will be re-opening its doors to visitors on April 1 following a limited number of special openings on March 18, 19, 25 and 26 when people can come and see signs of spring like the daffodils and the rare herbaceous plant scilla.

Houghton Lodge is a Grade II* listed "Cottage Orné" surrounded by mature trees and lawns down to the banks of the River Test. For more information go to houghtonlodge.co.uk.