Apples: as good as they look
It is a very happy coincidence that apple trees are as beautiful as they are productive. Thinking about it for a moment, it is difficult to think of a plant that is as productive and has such lovely flowers. Apples are relatively easy to grow, as long as winters are cold enough to allow flower buds to form and there is good variation in the fruit. They are long lived and easy to train and the flowers are, frequently, spectacular. Gooseberries are easy to grow too but the flowers are not exactly showy. The same goes for currants. Plums have attractive blossom but neither they, nor pears are as pretty. The mango, king of fruits, has pathetic flowers in comparison. You get the drift!
Crab apples are often recommended as garden ornamentals and they do have lovely flowers and small fruits. I even planted two ‘Gorgeous’ to help pollinate my apples and I have two red-leaved Malus toringo ‘Freja’ (below) for the same purpose – the former is just about over and the latter, which are becoming much-admired plants, are just starting to bloom.
But the real apples have been open for a week or so while some are just opening. They are as pretty as anything in the garden and, now that this is their third year and they have been pruned for bushiness, I will let most of them carry a crop this year – I think I deserve something for my patience if the wildlife leave them alone.
Oh, and Happy Star Wars Day
May the 4th be with you!
Lovely pictures of rainbows (and apple trees).
I am watching four espalier-trained trees at the moment. They had become over congested, far too many spurs, so I pruned out a lot of them during the winter. Now, I am living in hope that I haven’t done too much damage and that we will have fruit this autumn. Agrees, it’s hard to pass them for beauty and productivity.
The vast orchards of stone fruits that occupied the Santa Clara Valley decades ago were a tourist destination while blooming, like the colorful foliage of autumn in New England and adjacent Canada. (Although plums were not commonly grown here, prunes were one of the main crops.) Flowering cherries that were so popular in Japantown (Nihonmachi) of San Jose were spectacular, but unproductive, like flowering crabapples. Because most who live here are from somewhere else, I grew up hearing about how spectacular the apple trees of Pennsylvania and the adjacent apple producing regions are, but still can not imagine them to be as spectacular as the last few remnants of orchards that I remember here. Apples and pears were grown in the Santa Cruz Mountains above the Santa Clara Valley, but the orchards were not nearly as vast. Instead of growing in regimented grid patterns on vast flat acreage, they were tucked into a narrow floodplains between ridges. The many apple trees that remain at the farm are what remains of an old orchard that was abandoned as the farm expanded into it in the 1970s. At my home, there will be both; at least eight apple trees copied from the eight cultivars at the farm (including one fat crabapple, and maybe a ninth ‘Yellow Delicious’ that was a popular cultivar for home gardens in the Santa Clara Valley), and about as many of the stone fruits that used to grow in the Santa Clara Valley (including some that were more popular in home gardens than in orchards). They are all spectacular in bloom. They have such distinct personalities.