Saturday, May 28, 2011

Gardening: Don't sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me…

Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed. – Robert H. Schuller

The blossoms in Nova Scotia are just about peaking this weekend.
I thought I would post some musing about apples today because in Nova Scotia there is no better date in the whole year to do so. The blossoms are on full show and there's a festival this weekend.

The main title of the post is meaningful to me as well. The old wartime Andrews Sisters song has a lot of relevance for me as we DID sit out under the apple trees. Mind you it was the 1960s, not 1940s, but still...

This weekend is the 79th Annual Apple Blossom Festival in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. Every year that area of the province, famous for its orchards and farms, celebrates one of its major crops with a weekend long festival. If you have the time and want a fun little road trip I suggest you take a drive down there and catch some of the festivities. 

All the info you need is at The blossoms are at peak right now, and the sun will break through later today. I'm sure of it.

This old apple tree is so covered in blossoms you can't see the leaves!!
When I was young my two maiden Great Aunts looked after me. My mom and dad both worked so it fell to them, both in their 70s/80s, to entertain a toddler.

Their house was across the street from ours so it was an easy "commute". They had a large lawn out front of their home which was built on a natural knoll (or small hill) in the landscape. 

Flowering crabapple.
When they cleared the land they left several apple trees standing. The land where they built was part of a homestead and orchard owned by their mother and father, so I'm sure sentimentality had something to do with it. 

I can remember, even as a very small child, those apple trees arching over the driveway. They made a cool canopy for summer lawn chairs and an idyllic vantage point to watch the villagers and other seasons march by.

One of those seasons was of course Spring, and late each May those apple trees would become literally covered in sweet scened blooms.

There were then (and are this year) so many that they filled the air with a delicious fragrance. Subsequently we would also have "May snow" when the petals began to fall after the blossoms were pollinated.

Over the intervening 45 years these apple trees have grown greatly and still stand as old friends of happy times. Some years they bloom prolifically, some not as much.

It's a bit funny because I always remember them being large but it must be more of an instance of me being small so the trees looked larger than they were. Everything looks big when you're 3 feet tall, right? I will never think of Spring and Summertime with my aunts without a fond remembrance of their apple trees.

My remembrance of apple trees isn't the first thoughts most people have of them, I know. When most think of apple trees we think orchard, and big farms. But apples can be successfully, and beautifully, incorporated into a small garden. The apples that Aunt Hilda and Aunt Nettie grew weren't the greatest (actually pretty bad), but you can purchase the same varieties you buy in bags at inflated prices in the grocers. 

This is a wild apple tree at my Mother's. You don't have to have a fancy name
to be part of the fun.
Macintosh, Red and Golden Delicious, Northern Spy, Russet... You name it, you can grow it in your own garden. There are also grafted apples with multiple varieties on the same trunk if that makes you happier. The size of the trees sold in garden centres (at the price of about 15-20 bags of apples) are such that possibly within a year or two you could be harvesting your own sizeable crop.

Me? I've started a russet apple tree from a grocery store apple seed, and have a "summer apple" out back which yields in August. I'm debating what other kinds I want. The old apple trees out front are still going great, but are starting to show some age. I'll be certain to replace them as they pass. Probably with more "edible" varieties than are there now.

There is not much more beautiful than blossoming fruit trees in spring. Unless you're seriously after crop yield, let them grow naturally to twist and weave as they reach toward the sky. Apples may grow overhead, but underneath you will plant memories.


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