It’ll be an Apple Year

orchard

Aside from foundation stones where buildings stood a century and a half ago, our apple orchard is one of the few visible remnants of the old hillside farm that dates back to the first European settlers who’d taken up residence on our land. (The stones from what we believe to have been a barn foundation are visible in the photo above.)

apple blossom

As old, unkept orchards go, ours had taken to a biennial cycle. Every other year we get an abundance of fruit, so heavy that the limbs droop nearly to the ground under the weight of the apples. Exhausted after the heavy bearing year, the trees take a year off to recuperate. Last year we had only a few scattered blossoms on a handful of our 20 trees. This season, ready to give it their all again, the trees blossomed fully. It’s going to be an apple year!

apple blossom

The orchard was originally laid out on a 25-foot grid with perhaps double the number of trees that stand today. Our plan is to fill that grid back in with a combination of the heirloom varieties that we have in the orchard, along with a few contemporary types. (I love Macintosh!)

apple blossom

We’ll keep the old trees around to provide mast for the animals who look to them in the fall and winter, and also for the nice shady spots that are ideal for taking in a glorious summer’s day.

apple blossom

I love the pinks at the early stage of flowering (above).

apple blossom

The blossom is at its peak (above) and the orchard is abuzz with bees servicing the trees.

apple blossom

With all the flowering activity in the canopy above, it’s easy to get distracted, but down beneath the trees an abundance of tiny violets hide among the grasses at ground level. The burst of color is extremely brief and the meadow will soon be covered by a thick coating of petals that springtime breezes shake loose from the trees. Fruit will be visible soon. It’s going to be an apple year.