A Little Eden

A Little Eden

May 18 2020

I’m a dreamer. I see things as I wish they could be, my husband just wants to know how much that will cost. He has, however, made the very wise decision not to question my plant purchases. My gardens are where my dreams live, where I can follow my passion, let my imagination run wild. I get lost out there, temporarily free from the pressures and worries of both the past and future. When I’m in my garden, I’m in the now, fully present, and what more could you ask of Eden?

It seems only appropriate to speak of apples trees here and there is one in particular I will plant wherever I go. A farm we owned had a mature apple tree planted by the previous owner that I at first assumed was a flowering crab apple until I saw the apples. They grew in clusters and were a deep, almost burgundy red, about 2 inches wide, and very tart. When some friends and I spent a delightful afternoon making apple cider from many different kinds of apples, this little apple won the taste test hands down. Year after year.

Since none of us were sure what specific apple this was, I took samples and pictures to the county agent and a state horticulturist who had both been involved in the Montana Heritage Orchard project. They both agreed it was a Kerr Crab, developed at the Morden Research Station in Canada, and a cross between Dolgo crab and Haralson apple. I knew of a farmer years ago who wrapped his Haralson apples individually in newspaper and they would keep for months.

Because you can’t keep seeds from an apple and get the same tree, I took cuttings and gave them to the state horticulturist to graft onto rootstock. I’m waiting to see how that comes out, especially since we have since sold that farm. In the meantime I bought a Kerr Crab tree as did my cider pressing friends. It really is an incomparable cider.

A great book on the world of apples (and three other plants) is Michael Pollan’s ‘The Botany of Desire’. It explains why you can’t grow apples from seeds, well of course you actually can-witness Johnny Appleseed, but you have no idea what your apple tree will look like. Speaking of whom, those apples he planted were mostly bitter, sour, inedible and used to make hard cider. He brought the gift of alcohol to the frontier!

It is a little slice of Eden to go out into your yard and eat an apple right off the tree. Some things you just can’t assign a monetary value. Besides, I’m only banking hope.

Kerr Crab, Malus domestica, zone 2-3