Apples are fickle around here. Actually, that’s true of most fruit trees. Our “official” last frost date is May 15, but sometimes its warm early, and the trees get carried away and bloom early. A neighbor’s peach tree had gorgeous blooms in early April. A hard freeze after blossoms are fully open markedly reduces a fruit crop. I’ll be surprised if they have peaches this year.
Last year, we had a big snowstorm May 17 and 18. BA and I were visiting Yellowstone at the time and got to deal with road closures both in and outside of the park, and had to modify our planned route home as Interstate 80 was closed due to blizzard conditions. Here in Colorado, the same storm brought several inches of snow and a hard freeze. I didn’t see any trees with fruit in town last summer.
My house was new when I bought it in 1987, and the lot was bare except for weeds. I planted three fruit trees along the back, two apples and a cherry. The middle apple tree died after about 10 years. The cherry produced delicious Montmorency cherries for many years, then was badly split by a heavy wet snow some years back. Surprisingly, it did survive another 8 years or so until another storm ended its life. My surviving apple tree is doing pretty well. Its a Haralson, which has a crisp fairly tart fruit. I like to eat it raw, its great in an apple crisp, and makes fabulous apple sauce.
Like many apple trees, it has reverted to bearing every other year. Last summer was to be a fruit year. We had lots of blossoms and I was excited for a good crop. Then came May’s storm. No apples, for me or anyone else around. This spring, the tree has bloomed well and fairly late, as the blossoms are just now fading. So, with any luck, this year we will have apples, for the first time in three seasons!
My next door neighbor has an apple tree in her front yard with its own curious tale. J purchased it at an end of the season sale some years back. It was marked as a semi-dwarf, non-fruiting crabapple. Not exactly. Its a full size apple tree. Challenging on our small (0.1 acre) lots! Its a beautiful tree with a twisted trunk and branches, and it is today’s featured image. When this tree produces, which is annually excepting last year, there are a LOT of apples. J’s apples plus mine make a killer sauce. So we are hoping. J also puts a sign up “free apples” and its fun to see folks from around town coming by to pick a bag or two.
These fruit trees add so much to our local environment. Food for us, and some critters, a source of beauty, and shade. They also are a wind break, and the birds and squirrels have homes. Our late cat Jules spent almost every morning sitting in the early sun under our apple tree. The trees are part of the family.