The pineapple has long been a symbol of hospitality. ATX Pinery embodies Pura Piña, a frame of mind that is all about celebrating life, having fun and exuding hospitable vibes, Austin style! The first pineapples at the ATX Pinery were grown from the crowns of Costa Rican pineapples bought at Whole Foods in Austin. Costa Rica is a majestic country synonymous with the saying, "Pura Vida", an expression of eternal optimism and deep appreciation for nature, family and friends.
From Columbus to a Symbol of Hospitality
When Columbus arrived on the island of Guadeloupe he became the first European to experience a fruit called "anana" by the locals. He recorded in his log that the fruit looked like the pinecone but has the sweetness of an apple. When Columbus returned to Spain from his second voyage to the New World in 1493, he brought pineapples and a few survived the voyage. King Ferdinand sampled a pineapple and declared it superior to ALL FRUITS! The pineapple quickly found favor in the royal courts of Europe. European gardeners found the pineapple nearly impossible to grow in and spent the next two hundred years trying to grow one before a Dutch woman, Agnes Block, was the first gardener to bring a pineapple to fruit in Europe in 1687 on her estate at Vijverhof.
Shortly afterward, the first two hothouses or pineries, were built in Amsterdam. The Dutch pioneered the design and use of hothouses and indoor gardening in buildings where heat was maintained by ingenious methods and at enormous cost, making this an enterprise for royalty, nobility and wealthy classes. While the Dutch pioneered indoor pineapple cultivation, the British and French pursued the endeavour with a spirit that amounted to obsession. The exorbitant costs of supporting the plants, the pineries and the expert gardeners who maintained them heightened the reputation of the pineapple as a status symbol. Among the elite, interest in pineapple growing reached a feverish pitch. From the 1760's, treastises on pineapple cultivation began to appear. Gifted horticulturalists could command huge fees, young plants were traded between friends and stolen by enemies. Bribery, horticultural secrecy and sabotage were commonplace. At the height of pineapple mania, it is estimated that each hothouse pine brought to maturity cost roughly $3,000 in today's money.
Pineapples came to denote lavish hospitality as hosts made a great show of displaying them at grand dinners. Those who could not afford to grow or buy their own pineapple but still wanted to impress could rent a pineapple to display during their parties!
Austin's First Pineapple Babysitter turned Pineapple Granddad!
I'm Ross, the gardener behind the ATX Pinery. In 2013 I was asked by my good friend to babysit his pinery in downtown Austin. I agreed to babysit for a few months and those few months turned two years.
After a couple of years, my friend decided he wasn't coming back to Austin and told me, "They're your babies now"!
In 2014 I harvested Pineapple Thorsson, the inspirational pineapple with a monster crown, reminiscent of a viking helmet, that inspired the ATX Pinery logo. I planted Pineapple Thorsson's crown and began to grow my second viking pineapple, Ragnar Pineapplesson.
After three years of taking care of Ragnar and a near frost that almost killed him along with the rest of the pinery, I'm happy to announce that Ragnar is having a baby piña. That makes me a pineapple granddad! The baby pineapple, Piña Ragnarsson, is growing by the day and should be ready to harvest around September 2017! Keep an eye on the blog and Instagram to see how this little guy is doing.
(Piña Ragnarsson, First Sighting, March, 2017)
(Piña Ragnarsson, April, 2017)
(Piña Ragnarsson getting watered, April, 2017, Purple Tank Available Here)
Don't be afraid to email me with any questions, comments or requests at firstname.lastname@example.org!
More Detail on the origin of ATX Pinery...Pineapples in Austin?
In 2013 Austin’s original, high altitude (12th floor), organic pineapple farmer, “Piña Joe-lada”, was aggressively cultivating pineapples in his downtown loft after an inspiñarational visit to the Dole pineapple plantation in Hawaii. He desperately wanted to harvest a homegrown pineapple in Austin, well, BECAUSE PINEAPPLE.
Pineapples grown from a crown take two years to produce fruit and can't be cultivated year round outside in Texas as they will die during a frost. They can spend most of the year outside or can be grown inside with western, southern or eastern facing exposure.
Piña Joe was smitten with a gal living in Florida, wanted to go live with her for a while needed somebody to look after his pineapples. Piña Joe asking me to live at his loft and look after his pineapples for a couple of months. That is how I became a PINEAPPLE BABYSITTER.
They're Your Babies Now!
A couple of months turned into a couple of years, Piña Joe got married and never returned to Austin for more than a week. It was time for me to move along to 78704 and I asked Piña Joe what he wanted me to do with all his pineapples. “THEY’RE YOUR BABIES NOW,” he told me! Yes please.
Pineapple Moving Day
The crop was culled to only the healthiest pineapple specimens and was moved from 78701 to 78704, the current home of the ATX Pinery.
It is true! Pineapples can get sunburned!! Within a day the crop went from living inside to enjoying the full strength of the Texas sun. The results were disastrous, widespread sunburn! The crop was moved inside, given them some serious TLC, BioThrive fertilizer and enjoyed daylong light powered by clean, Texas wind electricity.
The crop is currently 15 strong and includes Smooth Cayanne, White Jade, Variegated and Florida Special varieties. Two baby pineapples arrived in spring of 2017.