April brings the first
flush of pink and white flowers to the apple, pear, and peach trees, filling
the air with the sweet scent of spring. Birds build their nests in the fruit
trees and sing the dawn sun over the far hills. The hum of bees busy at their
pollinating makes every tree alive with music. No place is so beautiful as an
old orchard reawakening.
Ours is a remnant
orchard from the grand days when Colorado was the apple kingdom of the West and
more than 2,000 varieties graced the valleys. Some of our heirloom trees date
back to 1890. Our family has long practiced recycle, reuse,
restore, thus we took on this orchard in 1978 when it was falling into
oblivion, the heirloom fruit trees nearly gone. We fenced out the deer and elk
that stripped the bark from the trees; we pruned, fertilized and watered, and
even those trees that seemed beyond hope suddenly responded, pushing up new
branches, new life. The old fashioned apples have the best flavor of any, that
juicy, snappy, tart and sweet mouth-watering taste of long ago. Bite into one
fresh-picked from the tree and time stands still.
From these old
varieties we have created new crosses as well, such as the amazing Amazon
Maiden (pictured above) and Amazon Baby (pictured below), two very large
succulent apples with parentage from the antique Maiden's Blush (which is
growing in The Hobbit House front yard).
The apples are ready
for harvest at different times, beginning with the earliest White Transparent
in mid-August, and going about every two weeks, until the latest, Arkansas
Black, in November. In between are the peaches, early and late, the pears,
early and late, the plums, cherries, and apricots. Having the fruit ready at
intervals makes the orchard easier to manage.
Left to right: Arkansas
Black,Winesap, Macintosh, Jonathan, Colorado Red
Left to right: Snow,
Gala, Royal Gala, J&P Early
Left to right: White
Transparent, (George) Washington Royal, Golden Delicious, Maiden's
Left to right: Amazon
Baby, Amazon Maiden, Jonagold Spur, Yellow Transparent
Airlie's Red-Flesh, on
the tree and sliced (above). This apple makes lovely pink
The Heirloom Red Baron
peach is the most stunning peach tree, with its carmine pink triple
The Red Baron peach
produces a succulent free-stone large fruit with gorgeous color and creamy dark
RASPBERRIES, MULBERRIES, & BLACK CURRANTS!
YUM! The best
blackberries this side of the Cascades!
It just doesn't get any
better than this! Juicy plums, Oregon blackberries, chard, and
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