Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Focusing on Old Apple Trees 'Giving Sculptures' of the Land

Older Apple trees, not unlike humans in their dotage, seem to tire more with time and are not quite up to producing all the plump blooms . . . that with the prodigious participation of pollinators . . . will bear fruit every year or in some cases every other year. 
There is a sizable silence of florescence in five of my six senior Apples this spring. 

Apple on the Edge of North Garden and Field April 2012

Apple on the Edge of North Garden and Field April 2012

Pruning is a rather large scale activity here at Flower Hill Farm. I depend on Nate, who I have coached over the years to 'see' ( number one lesson in pruning,) to carry the ladder and lift the pruning pole, saws and loppers. Then the sucker shoots, sprouting continuously, demand sharp clippers and precision cuts all up and down branches and trunks. 
Apple trees take on graceful and sculptural forms as they mature. I did not plant the various Malus here but they have become my own through over thirty years of caring for them. 
Though the light is not the best to show it . . . there are plenty of blooms but not as large and abundant as in years past ~ see below.  We still need to prune the tips of the branches quite a bit. 

Apple on the Edge of North Garden and Field 2011

Northern Parula from 2011 Opening Apple blossoms in tree above

I have many avid helpers in keeping the Apples organic and mostly 'pest-free'. 

Middle Garden Meadow Malus  April 2012

Middle Garden Meadow Apple ~ April 29, 2011

The Apples bloomed in April this year, where they usually unfurl in May. This larger spread of tree is always the last to bloom of all of the Apples. Twenty-twelve reveals but a few blossoms. The branches will not be heavily laden down with fruit this fall. I am not sure of the age but guess this to be around 50 to 100 years old. 

Apple Gateway  April 2012

Our Apple Gateway is in need of major pruning and not in the 'porcupine way' but when the trees are dormant. We have very few blossoms on the pair this year. 

Apple Gateway Leading down into Blueberry field April 2012

Apple Gateway May 2011 ~ What a Difference in Timing and Profusion of Flowers

Apple Gateway April 2012
Apple Gateway May 2011

Ruby-throated Hummingbird in Apple Gateway May 2011 

Porcupine in Apple Gateway truly taxing the tree ~ Note the bare and dying branches in third photo above this image.

Marvelous creature . . .  but do you have to eat my apple tree? I am happy to share the apples!

Porcupines provide pruning too but they stress the trees by gnawing on them while they are actively in growth. Still, it is hard to be too angry at the prickly porcus spina.
I have to be creative in dissuading them.

Bonsai Rock Garden and Lower Garden Apple April 2012 ~ Abundance of blooms on north side 

Bathed in fresh morning light April 2012 . . . I am standing slightly further back for this photograph

This Apple appears to be growing out of a large outcropping of rock. 

Bonsai Rock Garden and Lower Garden Apple April 2012 Absence of florescence on South side.

It is rather odd that this Apple is only blooming on one side this year. Rather a split personality.

Nate Pruning and Casting Bonsai Apple Branches March 2011 ~ Thinning the Crown

North Side of Bonsai Apple Blossoms 2012 Reaching Down Towards Apple Gateway

Within the Bonsai Apple 2012 . . . I vividly recall the days when I could climb up into this crusty form to prune 

Ruby-crowned Kinglet Showing a Spot of its Ruby Crown . . . Soaking Up the Warmth of the Sun

South Field Apple 2012 Copiously Covered in Fragrant Blooms Promising Prolific Yields in Fruit

Female Bluebird Before a Cloud of Apple Blooms 2012

The South Field Apple tree is also in need of some thinning and heavy pruning, but it seems not to be bothered by the over crowed branches in its crown and will give us a great crop of apples in the autumn. When near this tree the pollinators purring is plentiful.
In good years, these six Apple trees yield bumper harvests for humans and wildlife alike. This year there will be less to go around. There is usually a cyclical cycle of production, but I have never seen such light productivity. Still the trees are fabulous focal points in the gardens and with any garden . . . there is always next year. 
Yesterday I noted many returning songbirds - Baltimore Oriole, Indigo Bunting, Redstart, Catbird, Hermit Thrush and the Ruby-throated hummingbird. There were also many Red-Admiral butterflies and the earliest that I can remember sighting of our first Monarch Butterfly. Everything is lush from the rain and warm days . . . everyday opens with new surprises . . . joys to unfold. 
I so wish it could be the reality for all the world over.  

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