Friday, 19 August 2011

Apple (19 AUG 2011)

When I wrote a post in February about my apple seedlings, I was prepared to write a sequel to chart their progress, but I didn't think that it would be this soon ...

 A few weeks ago I was at my mother's. As per my usual routine, I headed straight to the back-room, lifted the net curtain and peeped out at the garden. I was faced with an horrific scene. The apple tree that I remembered from my childhood had disappeared. I haven't been able to write about it until now.

 In the background, you can see the rose and strawberry patch that my friend and I planted as children and amongst it the slowly, rotting apples prematurely shaken from the family tree as it met its miserable fate ...

 
                 

All that's left to focus my grief (or guilt) on is this stump.

Mother was apparently confused at my reaction. It was inevitable, the tree was broken after being struck by lightning, the trunk had been hollowed out by some sort of parasite, a branch had already cracked off last year under the weight of the fruit and it was likely that we would lose another this year, overhanging the neighbour's fence. I could tell that this explanation had been rehearsed ...  and by the way, did I realise that the bottom compartments of the freezer were filled chock-a-block with home-grown apples and blackberries from a year and two ago. Wasn't I relieved that I wouldn't have to clean up the mouldy apples this autumn? ... after all she couldn't do it any more ....

Then yesterday I read about Linnie's picturesque pear tree, it's main branch growing thicker than the trunk causing it to split, allowed to survive against all odds. Now I feel even worse.

 
It's true that I did complain about the mouldy apples, but I didn't mean it. Never again shall I draw up their cidery odour while trying to balance them, rolling about on a fork, on my way to the garden waste, tentative to pierce them for what might ooze or burst out.

It's true that I had inherited the job to bake apple crumbles (including the less plentiful blackberries on special occasions), but I hadn't delivered for quite a while. I just expected that our maggot-riddled apples would always be around. I haven't even baked since the tree was put down, yet it's a comforting thought that there are still bags of sliced apples stashed away in the freezer, the only happy memories of our lost family member except ...

I wrote about the three apple seedlings when they had just germinated, an attempt to recreate the favourite feature in my mother's garden in my own.
I wrote about how I wasn't sure whether to keep them alive after I discovered it was almost improbable that they would produce the same fruit as their parent; the chances of it being a species tree and self-fertilising were slim.
It was Edith Hope's comment about giving the gift of life which made me feel stupid for dismissing them as worthless just because they might not grow into replicas of the family tree.

So here they are alive and well with adult apple leaves and woody stems. Needless to say, they are so much more precious now than they were in February.



©Copyright 2011 b-a-g. All rights reserved. Content created by b-a-g for http://experiments-with-plants.blogspot.com/2011/08/apple-19-aug-2011.html

20 comments:

HolleyGarden said...

Yes, we often complain about something just because it's familiar, when we really love it. I hope your new apple seedlings take off well and make fruit.

greenapplesgarden.com said...

I enjoyed your post today. It seems like nostalgia day. I remember the huge apple tree at an aunt's house. We had orchard apples at my grandfather's estate, but the one huge tree at my aunt's was my favorite. It was never sprayed and you always risked the proverbial worm, but it was my all time favorite tree to climb and pick apples. So I see and feel your joy at the small apple seedlings, excuse me, mini trees.

One said...

Congratulations! The babies hatched. You are a new parent...

We can't grow apples in our climate.

Karin / Southern Meadows said...

What a shock! Change is difficult to face sometimes especially when there are wonderful memories. I am glad that your seedlings are beginning to grow. Hopefully they will grow into magnificent trees!

Stacy said...

Losing a family friend, childhood memory, and current source of delight all in one go--yes, that would be a heartache. We will think encouraging thoughts at your seedlings, which are coming on well. Is that next year's bud I see forming in the photo on the left?

Pauline said...

So sad when an old friend has to come down, but wonderful that your tree lives on in your seedlings, How many years I wonder before they start producing apples for your crumbles ?!

gardeningattheedge said...

I know very little about apples...but the word 'grafting springs to mind. If you grafted a bud of the same variety as your old apple tree onto your seedlings, you might have the best of all possible worlds. But you'd need to seek some advice....

Christine @ the Gardening Blog said...

Ah yes, I remember your post in Feb about your Mom's apple tree and your apple seedlings ... At least you have those and I hope with you they grow and help to fill that void.

thesproutlingwrites said...

You have my sympathy - it's sad to lose an old childhood friend. I hope the babies will grow well. They'll have their own personalities and stories to tell so does it really matter if they won't be carbon copies of the old tree?

b-a-g said...

Holly, Donna, One, Karin, Stacy, Pauline & Christine - Thanks for your best wishes. This feels like a baby shower. The little trees have not grown much in height as I expected but as Stacy noticed, buds are forming. From what I have read, it takes about 6 years for apple trees to mature and fruit. Containing the roots encourages more fruiting.

b-a-g said...

Kininvie & Sproutling - In my post in February, I planned to graft a twig of the branch onto a sucker from the root to make a replica of the family tree. Unfortunately it's too late now, but I would rather grow on these seedlings knowing that they came from the family tree (and accepting that the fruit may not be the same) than search out a graft from a similar variety of apple tree.

Alistair said...

Hi b-a-g,I remember your February post well. Glad I am not the only sentimental nut case. I will be willing on your little saplings.

One said...

Still feeling like a new parent. 6 years isn't that long. Durian trees can take more than 10 years before they mature.

Your caption has been selected and is being posted today. Congrats again!

Malar said...

Oh dear! I have the same story too with mango and coconut tree abck in my hometown!
Hope you apple tree grow well and produce a lot of apples for you!

linniew said...

Oh b-a-g! I am so sorry about your beloved tree! What a terrible shock, finding it gone. That you use the expression "put down" tells all. I do regret if my half-pear tree made it worse. But those baby trees look wonderful. Do you have room to plant a known variety of apple this fall, AND space for a baby one to go in the ground too? You deserve both. (My mother cut trees too- I never understood it.)

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

I still see holes in the sky in our neighborhood where favorite trees have been taken down. It sounds silly but I think I grieve for them. After all most of them are way older than the person who decided to cut them, yet they are removed with not a thought. Al least your mother had some persuasive reasons even if they don't quite resonate with you. So sorry.

debsgarden said...

Change can be a wrenching thing, especially when it messes fond childhood recollections. I am glad you have the little saplings, already putting down roots and finding their own place in your memories.

b-a-g said...

Thanks for your kind words Alistair, One, Malar & Deb.

Linnie - I'm cautious about planting trees in my small garden. I start thinking about the pros & cons then end up with analysis paralysis. I'll grow the saplings in pots for as long as possible.

Carolyn - It seems strange grieving for a tree, but why not? ... it's another living thing.

PatioPatch said...

was very touched by this post b-a-g. Seeing a beloved family 'member' felled must have been a shock, like a sudden death. The garden will not feel the same again but then in truth it never was. Even the tree had not stood still in time and mortality. The sight of your seedlings was not only hopeful but the mark of a true gardener. Time maybe to start baking and enjoying the fruits of the old tree in celebration.

b-a-g said...

Thanks Laura - The tree has been suffering over the years. As usual, my mother made the difficult decision and took action. When I was younger, I never saw her as being a role model, but I do now. I'll take your advice and bake her an apple crumble this holiday weekend.

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