It’s just a few days to go before Wimbledon 2019 starts. It’s my only must-see sporting event of the year. The strawberries in the Genus garden have been in full production for the last fortnight, so we will be well placed to munch on delicious strawberries and cream through the matches. It’s a brilliant gardener's reward!
The strawberry and cream tradition at Wimbledon coincides with the early British strawberry harvest. There are numerous accounts of how and when it started. Some people believe King George V, who was an avid tennis fan, began the fashion for strawberry eating, others that it was a post-war introduction, and others finding evidence of strawberry eating as early as 1877. It’s certain that the strawberry and cream combo became a real fixture in the 1970’s. The Lawn Tennis Association has an interesting page of Wimbledon facts and figures, the strawberry statistics make interesting reading.
The strawberries normally come from Kent, and are picked just the day before to ensure freshness and quality arriving at 5:30 in the morning so they can be cleaned and prepared ready for customers once the gates open. An average of 28,000 kg are eaten through the fortnight, with 8,615 punnets sold. The punnets must contain a minimum of 10 berries. More than 7,000 litres of fresh cream is served. That too has a minimum quality set at 48% butterfat. The price of strawberries and cream has slowly increased over the years, reflecting changes to growing conditions and new horticultural systems.
The gardening connections aren’t just strawberries. The gardeners and groundsmen at Wimbledon are working flat out at the moment to get the lawns into perfect condition, and the floral displays (in green and purple) neat and prolific.
Well, I’ll avoid the lawn mowing, and with all those strawberries ready for me, all I can say is roll on the matches, I want to enjoy putting my gardening feet up!