Today we re-fenced the remainder of our orchard, and took formal portraits of the trees while they were in the nude. If you look at Part 1 of this series, you can see what a difference a week makes for the leafing-out of these little guys. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly Spring just happens. Anyway, here’s the skinny on the rest of the orchard:
When we were perusing Trees of Antiquity for our second wave of apples, we thought we were going to go in for the flashy pink types, with the showy blossoms and bells and whistles. But on closer review, we ended up falling in love with the modest charms of the Rome Beauty. It’s said to originate in Ohio around 1848 and its fruit is “medium to very large with handsomely striped to almost solid red, thick skin”.
I imagine someday this tree looking like a picture a little kid would draw of an apple tree: a green circle on a brown line of a trunk, with bright red dots all over it.
It’s self-pollinating, and last year it claimed the honor of being the first tree in our orchard to bear fruit that the squirrels didn’t get to before us.
As you can see, those apples are not bright, solid red. We were totally squirrel-shy after the Peach harvest debacle, so we picked those way too early. They were, um, not very good. Should the Rome Beauty produce fruit this year, we’re going to consider letting them ripen before eating them this year.
According to Trees of Antiquity, this is the oldest known English apple, dating back to the 13th century. How could we not choose to plant a type of tree that people have been cultivating and enjoying the fruits from for over 800 years? That is just beyond cool. We really don’t care what the fruits taste like (although this one allegedly is good for just about everything from eating fresh, to desserts, to making cider) — we just like that it’s been around for so long.
I should point out that we took some “artsy” shots of this one to show off Pookie’s favorite thing about our baby apple trees: the color and texture of their trunks.
The description of this from Trees of Antiquity’s catalog is like something out of an apple tree soft-porn romance novel:
“An old English winter russet, medium size, golden-brown skin with a crisp nutty snap, exploding with champagne-sherbet juice infused with a lingering scent of orange blossom.”
We’re not expecting any champagne-sherbet juice explosions this Autumn, thanks to the fact that Ash here has opted not to blossom this Spring.
For some reason, I suffer under the impression that this tree is actually the Ashmead’s Colonel, not Kernel, so I kind of feel like it should be some kind of Confederate gentleman officer from the Civil War, not an apple tree from 1700’s England. Clearly, this tree is a constant source of disappointment for me.
Cox’s Orange Pippin
This is kind of the apple tree. It’s supposed to be finicky, temperamental, and generally difficult, yet everyone who plants heirloom apples seems to want one. We also are operating under the belief that it originates somewhere near Blenheim, so we’ve decided it’s the same apple as the ones we fell in love with during that cheese dinner from Neal’s Yard.
Our tree here has yet to demonstrate even the slightest inclination toward blossoming, even now in its third Spring in our orchard, but he has managed to become our most resplendent tree by far. When we planted him he was less than waist high, then got ravaged by marauding deer, and somehow, in just two years, is now a towering, branchy behemoth.
Someday it will be a towering, branchy behemoth covered with the most delectable fruits we could ever imagine.
We have one spot in the middle of our front row of trees that is the Hole of Death. Two years running now, we’ve had that one tree get completely devoured by deer. The first year it was a cherry tree from our nursery co-op, and the second year it was some now-forgotten apple variety. This year we plugged the hole with an Alexander, a Russian variety dating back before 1817. We don’t have a picture of him just yet because he is literally a three-foot-tall stick with one branch shooting off it. It has one tiny little proto-leaf. If it’s anything like the other trees in our orchard, though, next year it’ll be four times the size it is now.
So that’s all of them — the trees of Maple Hoo Orchard. They’re remarkably lovely, even in their unsightly cages of deer netting:
And maybe someday we’ll have to open to the public to let people pick their own bushels of apples, as we struggle to keep up with them.