Wednesday, May 29, 2013

'Three Graces' Crabapples in Middle Garden

We are now in the last week of May, as I step back into the second week of May redressing our 'Three Graces' Crabapples and early Viburnum carlesii with fresh blooms. 

The limbs of the 'Three Graces' (to the left) hold three different varieties of blossoms.

Stepping away from the 'Three Graces' the distant cloud of sweet-scented crabapple blooms from the Crabapple Orchard offer quite a show.

The 'Three Graces' Crabapples looking towards the east. 

Looking out from the barn studio facing south as the sun sets in the west leaving only a sliver of light on the southeastern hills and the Mount Holyoke Range. The Bluebirds are busy bringing insects to their hatchlings in the nestbox. The 'Three Graces' are to the left, while the 'Gateway' Apples reach into view on the right.

Light transforms the landscape.

All is awash in fresh morning light from the barn studio looking over the 'Three Graces' canopy towards our beloved Black Cherry ('Michael's Tree') and a stately Oak before Walnut Hill.

Standing out in the north field looking up at the middle garden. 

The 'Three Graces' Crabapples as seen from the north.

 I often wonder how the wildlife here see this amazing time, when the gardens are nearly ablaze in color and fragrance. I know they love the many insects that are attracted to the riot of flowers, but how do they see or sense it all as they fly over the trees and shrubs and through the many blooming branches, building their nests and gleaning insects.
Now, the thousands of blooms are faded and small apples are forming that will feed many birds later in the year. Lilac time is up next.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Blooming Apple and Crabapple Orchard in North Gardens

Days of rain and cooler temperatures are allowing me to catch up with the virtual gardens. In real time we are beginning the last week of May . . . the month seems to have bolted by with little rain and cool temperatures that held a multitude of blossoms longer.

Stepping back into earlier spring again and walking away from the south gardens and the Apple Gateway out towards the north field, beneath the serpentine Black Cherry 'Michael's Tree' (holding the meticulously woven Baltimore Oriole nest) and White Birch, we approach the north garden's edge and our sixth older Apple wearing a white canopy of soft blooms.

The Apple stands, holding up blossoming arm-like limbs, beside quince along the fringe of the Crabapple Orchard. Seeing the giant Rock Maples from the north gives a different perspective of these majestic trees. Deciduous Dawn Redwood's graceful branches reach into the photograph (on left) from the north field trying to touch the Apple that seems to be stretching towards it too. In truth the Metasequoia is much farther away and the Apple needs more serious pruning. I am standing in the north field looking over to the gardens and house.

Now, looking further to the right, I stand near a younger Rock Maple and have my camera pointed more into the orchard that fills the space on the north side of the barn.

One path leads up into the garden offering a view of the fleecy textures of quince, apple, pine and crabapple just beginning to unfurl their sepals and petals. The rosy petals in the taller crabapple will turn pure white as seen below. The sweetness of the fragrance is heavenly.

Layers of quince, apple and crabapple flowers fully unfurl. All are members of the Rose (Rosaceae) family that dates back millions of years. Apples and Crabapples are of the genus Malus.

Various crabapple varieties blooming at different times. I wish I had better records and could name the varieties I planted nearly twenty years ago.

Looking through the Crabapple Orchard from the barn studio, the colors fill the windows and doors.

A Tufted Titmouse bathed in light and blooms sings for his mate. Who could resist?

Walking up towards the old farmhouse and looking back,viburnums and lilacs add another texture to the landscape.

Now, moving away from the Crabapple Orchard into other parts of the north garden and looking back.

The edge of the Crabapple Orchard and the north garden ablaze of blooms, seen while walking up yet another path from the north field . . . this one leading into the middle gardens, which I will share later this week.

Crabapple flowers are favored by foraging birds . . . especially the female Baltimore Oriole, who is taking a break from weaving her beautiful nest.

Woe be it for any little caterpillar, but the apples appreciate this steward. Crabapples are valued for their beauty and also they are an important food source during the spring and winter months for birds and butterflies. The small fruit is particularly preferred by Cedar and Bohemian Waxwings, Robins, Pine Grosbeaks, Wild Turkeys and some small mammals.

Just behind the farmhouse and the little studio looking down towards the Crabapple Orchard. The Weeping Crabapple (in the foreground) behind the studio is all budded out and will soon turn pure white. In real time they are fading and falling with the rain.

Looking out the barn studio door towards the north field and White Birch. The bright light on the white bark reflects the whiteness of some of the crabapple blooms. The late blooming lilac just before the quince is now fully blossomed with droopy blooms from the weight of rain and more rain.

The dozen crabapples that make up our Crabapple Orchard create a wildlife habitat in and of itself. Countless birds are often seen within the blooming branches gleaning for insects. Robins, warblers and even hummingbirds build their nests in the crabapple canopies and during the winter, Cedar Waxwings have a special technique of tossing and catching the tiny round fruit, which helps sustain them throughout the winter months. The branches also hold the weight of Wild Turkeys, especially when the ground is covered with snow, and help them survive the long winters here. All of this action, as well as, the fragrance and beauty of the crabapples offer us mere humans great joy.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Blooming Apples In The South Lower Gardens

Spring 2013 is a winner for Apples . . . unlike last year . . .  and this year, luckily, we did not get a killing frost to the fragile flowers. Hopefully last nights hail did not damage the forming fruit. These blooms have all but faded now but were like fragrant clouds within the gardens for a couple of weeks. Featured here are the Apple trees in our lower, east-facing, south garden that runs down into the blueberry fields. I was lucky to have inherited these trees when moving here and have cared for them for over thirty years now.

Our Apple Gateway is mightily floriferous and we look forward to the bounty of fruit.

A Yellow-rumped Warbler enjoys a dead branch for a perch.

Baltimore Orioles open the apple blossoms to find treats within.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers drill for sweet sap that flows within the old Apple trunks.

Looking up from the blueberry field there is a multitude of new spring hue and texture in leaves and blooms.

Standing beneath the Apple Gateway looking up towards the 1790 farmhouse, Magnolia soulangeana, and majestic two-hundred-year-old Rock Maples. 

Male Baltimore Oriole (above) and female (below) favor the Apple blossoms for gleaning tasty insects.

A 'bonsai' Apple appears to be growing from of an outcropping of granite.

Our most majestic Apple offers an interesting form and delicious fruit.
 The 'bonsai' apple is over to the left . . . a Shagbark Hickory in the background of the upper garden.

I have not taken the fruit to an expert to identify, but they are heirloom varieties 
akin to McIntosh, Cortland and Roxbury Russet with one of the Gateway apples reminding me of a Golden Delicious.

Light, wind and mist embrace trees wearing white blossoms or leafy greens and there is such a diversity of life flitting in and out of the bountifulness of branches.  Crusty, languid limbs of Apple stately stand about our surroundings throughout the seasons . . .  like charcoal drawn sentinel beings slicing the air while their supportive fleshy roots reach deeply down into the dark, moist, restorative, loamy womb of our earth. They are our connection to that which dwells within a soulful, regenerative realm beneath the lively, light-filled, surface layer we stride upon. 'Trees of knowledge' nourishing body and spirit and like a good friend, offering a solid something to lean into. I love these dear old friends . . . that never stop giving . . . inspiring in their beauty and deliciously beneficial in their sustenance for all life.

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