Cherry, cherry baby
(Sorry for the earworm.)
Out of milk and orange juice, and there was something else we wanted to look for.
Which they didn’t have. But Richard humored me while I went to go see if the latest batch of ooh look, they’re all ultra-dwarf this time! trees at Costco included, by wild chance, a Stella cherry again.
Found one. Didn’t look great. And then two more that did. I actually got a choice.
I doublechecked with my sweetie….
I asked one of the employees for help getting it into the cart past all the lilies on the forward part of the pallet. He moved those out of the way, made sure which tree I was pointing to, I read the tag again just to be certain that this trunk and that tag went together, and then as he brought it over and set it down he started peppering me with questions, very interested: how much were those? $18.99? When do they produce?
I checked the tag: mid-June here, and I told him they grow to only six to eight feet tall and produce about nine pounds of cherries a year. (Found out after I got home that we should get our first ones next year; it doesn’t take them long.)
You should have seen his eyes! “My mother could grow one of those!” Something that small, that productive but not overwhelmingly so, that enticing–what a cool idea!
And so my delayed Mother’s Day present sounds like it means someone else’s mom may very well get one too. Or maybe the Kieffer pear or one of the peaches or apples or that nectarine over there. But the fact that Costco was out when Richard went to get me mine earlier meant that this conversation happened and now there’s all this other good that can come from that. Picturing that fine young man planting a fruit tree for his mother just totally makes my day.
They take so little effort. They last so long. They flower, they fruit, they give so much.
p.s. Michelle saw what she was very sure was a golden eagle as she was coming out of work yesterday, and today, not far from her office, a local golden eagle intruded on Clara-the-peregrine’s territory near her fledglings and Clara firmly escorted the much-larger bird out of there–one of the very few that can prey on peregrines, but not this time. Eric’s pictures of the encounter, here.
Save some for me
Happy Mother’s Day!
This morning Richard and I came home from an errand and there was a Cooper’s hawk at the top of the tree behind our front gate, duly noting our arrival. My territory, your territory, no-wings; welcome!
Didn’t quite catch the best moment, but, an Oregon dark-eyed junco male (the one with the black head) feeding his mate. He takes good care of her and it charms me to no end.
And below, the black squirrel that had a bad case of mange two years ago and went bald in patches and her fur grew back in white, making it look like she’s wearing a tank top and head band. She’s easy to spot. She does look like a very agile small skunk from a distance.
Don and Cliff saved six plastic produce clamshells for me, to my great delight, and now I have that many more plums and apples protected from those little thieves that in the past have stripped my Fuji apples clean in a day, two months pre-ripe. The little stinkers.
I know you’re supposed to thin the fruit out to one per branch but there aren’t a whole lot this year to begin with. I left the first cluster I found at two–safe now–and then went eh and snapped a clamshell around the whole threesome I found next.That tomato package was big so I was going to make the most of the space.
They may come out big they may come out small but we will at long last have our first homegrown apples (and plums!) Twenty-one years after I planted that Fuji. Thank you Don and Cliff!
One month already!
Happy first-month celebrations to Hudson!
Costco had Stella ultra-dwarf cherry trees today.Â Grow it in a big pot, never have to prune, go ahead and make use of that one little sunny spot outside the laundry room that’s too close to the house for free-range roots.
About ninety cherries a year forever after for about the price of a skein of yarn. (Oh wait. Pot and potting soil. Three.) I am seriously tempted.
Trying out this idea of guarding my tree fruit via the plastic clamshells that produce comes in. First thought: I’ve only got two apples and four plums covered and we only have two months before the latter are fully ripe–we’re going to have to eat a lot more strawberries etc if we’re going to get these all covered in time. Or bum clamshells off everybody we can. We have our first good crop of the Santa Rosas, which is a nice problem to have.
Side note: I asked Dave Wilson growers via their Facebook page last fall if my Santa Rosa plum could work as a pollinator for their new Pluerry plum/cherry/etc hybrid. They answered that they hoped so but they didn’t know yet; it was just too new a plant. Today they surprised me by going back to that question, now that they’ve had another spring with it, and affirming that yes, it does, along with Flavor King and Burgundy plums.
Their Pluerry has won all the taste tests across all fruit types. Guess what I want to plant.
The clamshells, meantime, only snap closed at one end with a branch in the way, but it looks to me like the only thing that could defeat one is a raccoonÂ sitting or swatting hard enough to break it or the branch.
I only kept one fruit among the three baby peaches. If the twig can’t hold up the weight of the plastic, it’s a pretty good sign it’s not strong enough yet to support the fruit either. One, though, held. It got the first clamshell.
Don’t call it white trash. Call it reuseful recycling.
Flowers for those needing a little Spring, still
Friday April 26th 2013, 10:34 pm
Filed under: My Garden
Another of the amaryllises from my Dad is opening up, with a third about to.
This red rose bush (unlike the yellow one next to it) was diseased and stunted when we moved here and we very nearly cleared it out, but hey, it was already there and I was quite sure I was never going to plant something as fussy to care for as roses; Richard looked up what to do and treated it that second spring with who-remembers-what-now.
That was 25 years ago. Over a year or two’s time it gradually came around, and since then it has simply thrived of itself, blooming profusely, asking nothing of us. It just needed a little bit of help and attention to get past that one rough patch when it was younger.
Got off easy this time
When the sun got quite low I went outside to trim back some remaining weed-tree branches to give the Fuji apple more sun; the doctor had told me I needed to work on upper-body strength (he wasn’t impressed when I mentioned the pound of baby afghan on my needles) and that was as useful a way to work on that as I could think of.
When I got out there, it was clear that the overall lack of rainfall this year was beginning to show in the plants.
A peach had dropped several leaves. A few of the little beginning plums were small and had turned yellow, unlike the growing green other ones;Â the yellowing clivia leaves clinched it.
I glanced up just in time to see the hawk soaring overhead on his way by, as if he had launched from the top of the redwood across the property and had had enough of my intrusion into his hunting time. And I’d probably just messed with one of his hiding places–my apologies (but it needed to be done). I appreciated that he’d flown right above me where I would get to see him rather than where my view would have been blocked by the roof.
Back to work.
April is awfully early to have to water here, but oh well. With the new trees, it was a bigger space to cover than I used to have to do and they need a watchful eye as they get established. I got started.
I went back outside about every ten minutes to move the hose around.
It was about 8:20 and I was going to let it run for just a few more minutes over thataway when I suddenly leaped out of my chair muttering Ohmygoodness and turned on the porch light and then started across the room the other way.
What’s wrong? asked Richard as I said Ohmygoodness again at myself and went to turn on the bedroom lights, too.
Remember that possum that bared its teeth at me from ten feet away last year? It apparently has company.Â We’ve had a few times in the last two weeks from an apparent distance, but…
Last night at about 11:00 the smell of skunk was sudden and intense. Now, skunk spray is great for opening up the airways for hours for asthmatics, but there are limits.
I actually–kids don’t try this at home–opened the sliding glass door, wondering if they’d been fighting in the shed.Â I shut it fast: wherever the thing was, that spray was right there!
So here it was dark and I was about to go from the bright inside out to the pitch black with a nearly-gone moon to walk near that shed so I could move the hose. Thirsty, possibly pregnant or nursing nocturnal animals also would like hoses in the dark (they have bitten through them before) and would want a Do Not Disturb sign hung on them.
I made as much light as I could and maybe even a little noise and I looked all around as I went out there and shut that thing off. Sorry, plum tree, we are done for the day here, folks.
Besides, I didn’t have any marshmallows for them anyway.
I’ve got pieces of April
To clarify on the last post, we can put trash bags in the recycling bin, where some poor schmuck has to grab them out and hoist them onto the trucks going south to the landfill and deal with any mess they make.
Two days ago, we were at two flower clusters and holding on the Fuji apple and the green was starting to pop out so it seemed like that was going to be it. Only two? I wondered if the snails had eaten all the flowers in the night (which they will do) and I just somehow missed them all? Went out tonight and there were new buds bursting out all over the place on the Fuji and new petals all over the other apple. Oh me of little faith. Well there you go.Â (And I scattered more of that Sluggo, an organic snail-only-killer, and around that August Pride peach with the new nibble in the leaf, just making sure.)
Meantime, I lost six non-spare pounds in the past week and I’m still pretty wiped so we did Japanese barbecue take-out for Michelle’s birthday and I baked angel food cake. They came home with strawberries. And hey, those berries came in a clear plastic clamshell of just the right size and will be holding one apple or one peach out of some critter’s paws or beak. Perfect.
I told Michelle she shared a birthday with someone.
She looked very pleased.
And the grandson baby blanket knits on (made good progress today). And the baby, unlike his big brother, waits. So far.
April all new
I was asked, so to explain: I got put on antibiotics for a sinus infection and they’re clearing that up nicely, but I also had–well, norovirus really should be a yarn-related description, don’t you think? *cough* Mild flaring too. At the one week mark I figure I’m about halfway done with it all.
It rained last night, and this morning, together, both apple trees opened their first blossoms.
This makes me way too happy. There is a very new plum-cherry cross on the market, Dave Wilson’s Pluerry, not lab-induced but done by good old-fashioned years of field work, and it is supposed to be the top taste winner, period, across all their fruits. The catch is that it needs a plum tree for pollination. I of course have one–but in all the various microclimates around here, they don’t yet know which varieties other than Burgundy will work. I have a Santa Rosa. I’ll wait for now–but it tickles me beyond silliness that my apple trees show how it’s done, to the day.
Kathy, I finally snagged a shot of a chickadee with its beak full of your dog’s undercoat; there’s a bunch of it on the table just below that pot and he dove down in there awhile like a knitter at Rhinebeck, individual fibers flying as he searched out the best, then reappeared on top to show off his prize just before taking off.
And if my Plantskydd (when I get it) is successful, I may actually have to thin the plums.
I finally, for the first time in a week, picked up my baby blanket knitting today (it will be scoured in hot water) and at least made a try at getting it done in time. It felt so good to be working on that beautiful thing again in happy anticipation of our coming April baby.
The timing! The choreography of God.
When we moved into this house, there was a miniature rose bush in the furthest part of the backyard blooming profusely, exuberantly, but where nobody could see it from inside the house. It just quietly did its thing and you had to go look to see it.
About ten years ago, maybe more, a weed tree sprang up near it. But I like trees, I miss the deep green of our native Maryland and this asked no expensive watering of us, and so too late we realized we didn’t like how much it had multiplied via suckers and become a line of trees along the fenceline that dwarfed and darkened the air above the little rose.
Which stopped blooming at all or even, as far as I could tell, growing. It just kind of held its breath.
The neighbors recently took out most of those weed trees with our permission, as I’ve mentioned.
I went outside on this lovely Easter evening we were having to check on my fruit trees, and a flash of pink over to the right caught my eye. And a second. They hadn’t been there before.
It had gotten a second chance. It is reaching to the light and so becoming again all that a small rose bush lives to be.
Pass the lemon juice, Honey
They grow so fast…
Yesterday’s Tropic Snow peach is noticeably bigger than yesterday and the last of the flower that was attached to it is gone. It’s almost April and it’s supposed to be ripe in June, so I guess it’s not wasting a moment. I stuck a finger down into the dirt, which could use some mulch: good. Still moist enough, don’t have to water yet.
I saw the beginning of two on the August Pride, too; they weren’t discernibly certain yesterday. Now they’re well past the just-a-guess, along with the new green plum needlepoints on the tree facing them. That little bit of rain last week didn’t hamper those blossoms after all.
I really like that planting those peaches has gotten me in the habit of walking around the backyard in the evenings and taking in the green and the growing and claiming it for my soul. Watching a bit of God’s knitting coming to be as the daylight stretches slowly longer.
Meantime, it looks like I’ll be able to make the baby afghan go further down towards my feet than I had thought the yarn would be able to reach to, good, and…after a week of dodging it, I’m finally catching Richard’s bug. Hoping that a cold will just be a cold.
(There was a get-together tonight that I was really looking forward to. My chocolate torte got delivered but my conscience needed me not to share the germs and I walked the garden here instead. To the vector, go the soils.)
Robin, looking out on snow in the town we moved here from, was wishing for signs of spring. We’ve got a few to share.
We have the most glorious view out our front windows, with the leaves beginning to come in in contrast to the bright white. Coming home from Trader Joe’s this evening, I scooped up a handful of petals that had somehow clustered on the far side of the driveway, wondering at the thought that I don’t think I’ve ever actually paid much attention to how they felt, not just how they looked.
They were so very soft–and cool to the touch. That surprised me. I’ve joked here before about them becoming our snowdrifts as more and more come down, but in the brisk evening air I expected my hand to feel warmed by being covered in them and in the immediate moment the opposite was so.
I let them scatter while they still felt like the ice crackles they looked like.
And behold in the back yard after years and years of wanting to grow these and finally starting to: our very first ever actual peach!
Just a picture to show why Richard and his dad didn’t think they’d have to do anything more to the 50-year-old apple tree when they cut it down: surely the last bit would just rot away.
There’s a whole tree grown now above where they left it, balanced really well somehow over that gaping hole, and anybody familiar with what January ’09 was like for me while I tried to get used to that new number 50 on my hospital bracelet will understand why it so appeals to me that this tree that was expected to be gone grewÂ back to productive life: can you just see the darkened ballet shoe in the gap? Dance!
Got two and a half more pattern repeats knitted so far today on that baby blanket.
Meantime, now it’s the apples’ turn to leaf out.
I sampled every variety I could find 20 years ago and then planted what was then almost an unknown, a Fuji. The house had come with two apples and a cherry tree that were dying of old age, according to the arborist I had come out. Richard and his dad took them out and I planted the Fuji.
Only, somehow they never took out the stump of the old Gravenstein and the rootstock eventually grew back–and it was apparently a Golden Delicious! Who knew! Not completely sure, because in all these years we’ve never gotten a single ripe apple off either one. Which is one of the reasons we didn’t plant more fruit trees earlier. Critters.
I have my bright mylar ribbon at the ready for the first season ever. I’m learning. And Plantskydd is supposed to stink, but from the mentions I’ve read from other gardeners, it actually works. Cool! (Los Gatos Birdwatcher carries it. Who knew!)
I have never watched those trees so closely before. Three days ago they both looked dead to the world. Then two leaves, then a scattering all over, with the Fuji first and the ancient one a single day behind.
I have seen snails climbing down at daybreak after a night of munching on the blossoms. I’ve never put anything more than eggshells around the trunks because I’m a strong disbeliever in poisons; if only I’d known.Â Sluggo is a brand of iron pellets that poisons only snails and fertilizes the trees, harmless, so I’ve got some out there now.
And it was spring solstice today, the day when I once had both hawks when the female was alive doing flybys again and again across my back yard–theirs, rather. So, thought I at the universe, where are you?
I guess Coopernicus answered that question pretty well.
Watching the healing
Dad took the paper and the comics to Mom for her to laugh by and reported to us children on her progress, and I know they’ll be making her walk on that knee soon.Â She did not finish all her hospital food. I commend her for trying.
And here, quietly, as I knit…
Squirrels have this imperative need to go up.Â Which is why they’ll do things like jump on a wobbly plant pot that certainly offers no protection to scan the skies for danger.
The lemon tree with its thorns growing next to the Tropic Snow peach, though, is not something I’ve ever seen them in and in 26 years they have stolen one, maybe two lemons ever–one bite and that was that.
So I don’t know if it was one of them that had just been spooked and went for the closest fur-friendly trunk or if possibly a bird tried to land on a perch that wasn’t ready for it yet; all I know is, everything was fine when I planted this and sometime after it started blooming, one branch became bent down and a few days later a second was half snapped at the base.
And yet. Still attached. Since then, both limbs have started leafing out just fine; how, I don’t know.Â But to a peach tree, it is imperative that it bloom and leaf and that it grow so it can give. Already the tips of those branches are reaching in the direction of the sun: up!
She’ll be springing forward all over again too
These pictures, taken at dusk today, are for my mom most of all.
While waiting to hear from Dad, I took my need not to be worrying about things out on that afghan: *ripped back, started over, repeated from * once and then I had it. It’s on its way now and finally beautiful and I love it and it’s such a relief.
Meantime, my mom had struggled with a torn meniscus for months and finally had knee surgery today (correction via Dad–they did a knee replacement). Dad reports that she is pushing the familiar green pain-med button every 15 minutes. The worst is over, the good part’s coming, and now my mother, who loves to take a good brisk walk, will be able to again when the healing is done.
And just for Mom, this red amaryllis that Dad gave me for Christmas a few Decembers ago that sat for several months this year refusing my entreaties to come up–and then finally did–opened its two flowers today, the universe sending my parents flowers. I quite like that.
And the first two tomato seedlings sprang out of the pot and then straightened their nodded heads to look up and show off their first two leaves to the sky, too, today. Tadaah! They’ve got a Spring in each step.