When we finished building this house, Mark had already begun the process of landscaping the front portion of the yard (required to get "final" on the construction permit), and had made 5 years' progress on the canyon (re-planting with California natives, nurturing the Riparian creek zone, cleaning up the trails and the dry creek bed, etc ...).
What lay ahead of us was: establishing lawn areas front and back, and re-planting flower beds and borders, planting along the (north) side yard, and creating an "entry garden" as you approach the front of the house.
We moved in in April 2004. We had the lawn "installed" around Thanksgiving time, I think. Mark began the task of planting the entry garden, some roses out back for me, etc.
What I had always wanted was a kitchen garden AND what is known as "a family orchard". One that will provide just enough fruit for the household, and in bumper crop years, enough to share with a few lucky folks.
While we have yet to organize a Kitchen Garden (some veggies, some herbs, and that's about it), we DO have the beginnings of our Family Orchard.
To date, we have one nectarine, one peach, and one apple tree out by the Barn. One dwarf Meyer Lemon and a Bearss (yes, it has two S's) Lime on the dining deck that proudce regularly; and a CaraCara Orange that just can't quite make it. We also have a 2nd apple tree in Espalier form against the kitchen window, although this year it is suffering from terrible whitefly.
Because it's been unseasonably HOT here in San Diego County, our peach tree is in full bloom in late January/early February. The apple tree next to it - is approaching full bloom. It is CRAZY, but it's crazy BEAUTIFUL. These photos were taken on January 31, 2009:
the apple tree ... it's 3 varieties grafted on 1 root stock, so only ANNA is blooming right now :-)
the ANNA "branch", w/ an apple as proof - it's an Apple Tree !!!
Next, two photos of the PEACH tree in bloom (wouldn't you expect peach blossoms to be orangey-peach color? NOT !!! they're two-tone pink and delicious to smell):
and a close up of the peach blossoms ...
Mark's been very blessed -- most of his life, his parents have owned a Cherry Orchard on the Flathead Lake in Montana, just south of Bigfork. My in-laws spend about 4 1/2 months there each year, and Mark (and his siblings) all visit, usually in some kind of rotation so they're not all they're at once!, each summer, schedules permitting. There is NOTHING like a cherry orchard in full fruit ... I don't go there often, but it is like heaven when I walk those trees.
back at home, the Flathead cherries from the in-laws' orchard - 2008 crop
So I leave you with this, from Emily Dickinson (who my mother, maiden name Edith Yerkes Dickinson, always HOPED we were somehow related to - proof has not been found, though!):
“When I sound the fairy call,
gather here in silent meeting,
Chin to knee on the orchard wall,
cooled with dew and cherries eating.
Merry, merry, take a cherry,
mine are sounder, mine are rounder,
Mine are sweeter for the eater, when the dews fall,
and you'll be fairies all.”
Happy February, my loved ones. And remember to eat your daily fruit allowance !!!