Fool for France

I decided that I needed an orchard. I have planted a couple of trees here and there, mostly ones that have died, but this year I decided to get serious. After dropping five and six-figure sums on the house itself — I don’t want to add it up — dropping two-figure sums on a few trees just seemed overdue. So I got two almond trees, two apple trees, two plum trees, a fig, a yuzu. a persimmon, an apricot and a white peach. They are all doing well. I see Bellinis in my future.

For the last few months I have wondered what to do with Robert. He has been languishing in a box in one closet or another for six years now. It’s a long time for me but of course he’s outside time now. I’m sure he’s been okay with it.

He used to talk about how he loved the Gravenstein apples that he ate on family vacations in the Russian River valley. So I found a local nursery that sold Gravensteins — but not online and I had to head back to Paris, so I sent Julien over to pick one up. This guy also had the only persimmons of the variety I wanted, so tracking him down was a must.

Julien is starting to love these wild goose chases. He found the guy, who is not online because he retired a few years ago. He still has a few trees, though, so he dug up what Julien wanted and traded them for a little cash. The prize was the Gravenstein. No one here knows what they are, so for a bargain price, Julien was able to bring home a full-size tree. You can sort-of see it through the mirabelle blossoms in the photo. We could have apples this year.

I came back down from Paris about a week ago. As I say, the trees are doing great. It has been a warm spring. Everything looks fabulous. So, having bought the memorial tree and seeing that it will survive its first year at my house, I dug Robert into the roots. Jacques displayed his usual excellent social skills. Instead of chasing after trucks, birds, airplanes, whatever, he stayed right with me, curious but not too much, until Robert disappeared into the mulch. And then, Robert being a gin man, I made myself a stiff G&T.

14 Replies to “Born Again”

  1. Oh such a big, gorgeous yard! I envy you. If had space like that I, too, would be planting trees. Alas, Max’s yard can only accommodate flowers and vegetables. I don’t know your backstory but from context I think I understand the references to the memorial Gravenstein and I think that is a magnificent approach. As thoroughly non-devout agnostic Shinto-Deists the AJF and I have designated our apple tree to be a certain patch of the blue Pacific offshore of Oahu. Persimmons are a serious subject to Japanese and I was curious as to your preference. We are strictly Fuyu persimmon people. We tend to mock Hachiya folk so I hope that’s not your chosen variety. Only thing with persimmons is that it takes at least 5 and usually 7-10 years for consistent fruit. Overall, you’ve made a selection of trees that, in Spring, will flower in succession and that’s a brilliant strategy so I know it was a conscious decision. Thanks for this post. I enjoyed a lot about it. Oh, and a G&T is always a good idea and worthy salute.

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    1. I think it’s a Fuyu. It’s the flattish one that you can eat without cooking it. So, 10 years. That’s a bit of a wait but it explains why my “tree” is actually a six-foot tall stick in the ground. I think I’ll get a few leaves this year. Fortunately the cherries have been there since forever. I can wait for a few trees but I’d hate to have to wait for everything.

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      1. Yup, that sounds like a Fuyu. The yuzu tree can be a bit of a trickster, too. There’s a saying in Japanese that a peach and chestnut takes 3 years to bloom, a persimmon 8 years and a yuzu 18 years. That’s more poetry than accuracy but yuzu trees can take a while before they decide to flower. It seems random.

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        1. 18 years? My handyman’s wife is a caterer. She wants those yuzus more than I do. Their kids could be out of high school before they get any fruit. It’s possible, though. I’m in my second or third year with the yuzu and so far, no blossoms.

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          1. Oh, one more thing…you might want to contact Kitazawa Seed and ask them to send you a catalog. Their seed catalogs have great descriptions of all the various seed varieties. So when you’re looking at various options for Asian veggies you’ll know their specific characteristics and which may be best suited for your particular climate conditions. On the web at kitazawaseed.com

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          2. Oh no, too late! I ordered nine packets from Kitazawa. This makes Julien laugh. Between the seed packets from 2014, which he dutifully plants, then waits for them to not sprout, and the good 15 or 20 of new-this year packets that are way more than I have room for — we can do only so much at one time — I figured I was good to go for this year. Plus my friend who arrives Friday brings the stuff with all the packaging, so I don’t want to overdo it. I turned down the catalog. Well, I’ll plant this stuff and we’ll think about next year, next year. I tried to go for nonhybrid seeds, so I can plant what I collect. This is my first real garden. When I lived in LA, I just threw stuff out there. Julien says no, you must get serious. Anyway, next year I may ask for recommendations. Since I didn’t get the catalog….

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    1. Come visit! See the results of all this work in person. You just reminded me. I finally went to the archives. The librarians were great. They deserve a blog post, at least.

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  2. That really is something to look forward to and I wish you many happy springtimes enjoying all that blossom, and equally as many summers and autumns enjoying the fruit – yet another reason to try and call by at your place one of these days! Though I think that is getting more and more unlikely … I can still dream! I’m sure Robert is happy with your choice of resting place. I have a friend with a kaki tree (which I think is also a persimmon) – it’s branches broke under the weight of fruit last year.

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    1. Vendee is not so far from Switzerland. It’s even closer to Brittany. But yes, a persimmon is a kaki. As you can see above, I was just warned about a long wait to see any fruit. Do you have any idea when your friend’s tree first bore fruit?

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  3. Planting trees is a gift to the future. Bravo. And an excellent memorial to Robert.
    You will enjoy the fruits. We have a fig, two cherries and an apricot. Only the birds get the cherries, but we have figs and apricots galore. I think ours started bearing in their second or third year.

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    1. The fig isn’t even a tree, yet. It’s a couple of little sticks popping out of the ground. It already has two little figs. No leaves, just figs. I love apricots and they rarely make it home from the market unbruised. Apricots in just a couple of years would be fabulous. I’m still amazed that you can put something in the ground and it just grows. My whole life in this house is about a city kid moving to the country. It is constantly amazing.

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