Apple Trees In Bloom: A Window To The Past

Around the end of May in Maine, it’s apple blossom time. When you are driving through the countryside, you can now see bushels of pink, white and fushia blooms.  You can make out where there were farms long ago, abandoned orchards or even where volunteer apple trees have seeded years before.  When you see a few apple trees together, sometimes if you look close you can make out where a barn or a farmhouse was.

A friend of mine once had the opportunity to walk from one end of town to the other, picking wild, untended apples along the roadway and tasting them all.  What an experience!  The varied flavors, some tart, some sweet, some in between.

Darker blossoms on a crab apple tree.
Darker blossoms on a crab apple tree.

Okay, wake me up!  I’m about to have an Anne of Green Gables moment here.  Put my hair in a huge bun and put on a petticoat!  There’s just something about apple blossoms.  Maybe it’s because I grew up with a small orchard on our property.  I can remember around a dozen trees of all different varieties.  Many possibly planted in the 1800’s.  Yellow Transparents, crab apples for the most gorgeous jelly you can imagine, an old storage type and a few red apples we were never quite sure of.  Pies started being made with the early varieties in late August and kept being made until the apples were gone.

Our very old apple orchard.
Our very old apple orchard.

Each kind had a slightly different color to the bloom.  I can remember bringing in some of the flowering branches for graduation parties and a few other special occasions. Always filling the house with heavenly scents that would make some of us sneeze!

Beautiful rosey pink buds.
Beautiful rosey pink buds.

Back when potatoes where grown in the fields by the orchard, we had virtually pest free apples.  It only took us a few years after the farmers stopped spraying the fields to figure out why the apples used to grow so well.  But now every few years we would have a good apple year.

Some older apple trees have a wonderful shape!
Some older apple trees have a wonderful shape!

Apparently I’m not the only one around that swoons over old apple trees.  I have found recipes for How to Make Abandoned Orchard Apple Pie.  This was an essay that was from an adult writing contest found at http://www.northcountryradio.org.   What a romantic tale of making a pie from found apples!  I would love to do this sometime if I knew a spot to find all of these apples.

Some older Apple trees near my house.
Some older Apple trees near my house.

Many people buy a piece of land and have no idea what varieties of apples are there.  Every year, MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association) holds The Great Maine Apple Day.  Usually held in the fall, they hold workshops and talks about all things apple.  Samples of rare and heirloom types are there to taste.  There is cider making, artwork, vendors and a team of apple identifiers.  Do you have a tree of unknown parentage?  They may be able to tell you what it is and it’s history.  For more information, visit http://www.mofga.org.

Hang in there little bee!
Hang in there little bee!

Renovating older apple trees can be quite an undertaking but it can be well worth it.  I have read a lot about this on the University of Maine Cooperative Extension web site.  There’s some great information in bulletin #2409 called Renovating Old Apple Trees.

One of our precious little pollinators!
One of our precious little pollinators!
Blushing blooms!

This time of year the earth is bursting with life.  Lawns are growing too fast and the dandelions are blowing their seeds everywhere.  Plant life is growing like a teenager with a growth spurt.  For now, I must savor the apple blossoms.  I probably won’t have time to dance at dusk through an orchard in bloom, but I can dream!  Their glory is so fleeting.  But there will be other flowers to come.  Take a look around your area.  You may find some abandoned trees that you can get apples from in the fall.  I’ve enjoyed sharing the look into the past today.  Thanks for going back in time with me! Feel free to subscribe in the sidebar!

Hilary|Everlongardener

For more of my Ramblings & Reflections see my post A Throwback To Times Gone By.