Some of my childhood memories involve fruit trees, so my love for them must have started young. I remember when I first learned to ride a bike and called my mom out to watch. Maybe you guessed it – I rode right into a cherry tree! At that same house where we lived when I was about five years old, I also remember there being peach and apricot trees and how happy they made me.
Fruit trees are another of my simple pleasures. They provide enjoyment all through the year! A fruit tree is a symbol of plenty and self-reliance, and of pie and cobbler…and homemade vanilla ice cream to go with it.
Fruit trees blossoming in spring are a glorious sight! I watch the pink and white blossoms form with anticipation of a fall harvest, but I never know for sure until the fruit forms. We often have late freezes that compromise the crop, if not totally eradicate it. That’s why it’s nice to have a variety of trees so that hopefully at least a few of them bear each year.
Throughout the spring and summer I watch the fruit swell.
I can’t help but imagine all the goodies to come!
Blue Jays love the cherries that ripen in late spring and it’s a battle that I’m still learning to fight. I hope that eventually there will be plenty for all of us.
Our peaches ripen in late July. We don’t get them every year because sometimes they’re nipped by late freezes. When they’re forming I have to battle Brown Rot fungus, and critters who anticipate them as much as I do, so it’s a bit of a relief when the last peach is picked.
In late summer, when the apples and pears are ripe and harvested, the days are shortening and it begins to feel like fall. I get the urge to decorate with an apple theme and bake.
Fall is a good time to plant fruit trees if we’ve decided we need more. So far I’ve quelled that impulse this year, although I have considered adding apricots or plums.
Having fruit in the freezer throughout the winter gives me something to bake with to warm up the kitchen. The aroma of fruit and spices makes our house smell cozy and inviting, just the thing to lift our spirits when warm sunny days seem so far away. Jelly or jam brings the taste of summer to toast or a biscuit, brightening cold dreary days.
In late winter I start to anticipate spring when the fruit trees will blossom and the whole cycle begins again.
I imagine that at one time a homestead wouldn’t have been complete without at least a few fruit trees, if not a whole orchard. In our area there used to be many apple orchards and I’ve been told that they were a tourist attraction when blooming. I can only imagine how beautiful that must have been! Now only the remnants of orchards can be seen such as streets named for them, old signs, and the occasional remaining tree.
One of my favorite pictures is a watercolor painting that I bought while visiting Seattle about twenty years ago. It’s a beautiful scene of a loaded apple tree with fruit falling to the ground. (I featured that painting in City Girl, Country Woman.) At that time homesteading was only a dream, but now we have our own maturing apple trees, and occasionally apples on the ground, (as well as chickens!) so homesteading dreams can come true!
Knowing how much I love the fruit trees, my daughter gave me a watercolor painting of an apple tree for Mother’s Day one year.
I love our fruit trees, and although I consider them a simple pleasure, I want to be open in that they aren’t always easy to care for as they require pruning and spraying.
If I’ve convinced you that you need to plant a few then I’d recommend researching to see which varieties do well in your area. Many need at least two, and sometimes of different varieties, for cross-pollination.
I’d also recommend learning about potential problems to watch for and begin a spraying program right away to keep them at bay. It may be possible to buy varieties that are resistant to common problems in your area.
Despite the challenges that can accompany them, I still consider fruit trees to be a simple pleasure and one I’m very thankful for.
Patiently Pruning Peaches and Pears
From Tree to Table ~ Homemade Applesauce
Hi Michelle, Really enjoyed your essay on fruit trees! When my parents, your grandparents, moved to the farm where Roger now lives, there was an abundance of fruit trees on the property…an orchard full of apple, pear, and peach trees south of the old milking barn, and a cherry tree or two up by the house. Seems there was also an apricot tree, and the garden spot had a long row of grape vines. The previous owners bequeathed us with an abundance of delicious fruit, but as the years passed, and with little of the care necessary (and as advised in your piece) they died out. Thanks for your reminder of golden days of fruits galore. (Also, I loved your painting of the apple tree which was a harbinger of your life to come.)
Thanks, Aunt Marcia! I don’t remember any of those fruit trees so I guess they died before I came along? I’m glad you remember them, though! That’s a lot of fruit to inherit with the property!