The ‘Portugy’ & the Italian Part III Orchard Vineyard Our Family of Trees

Our Family of Trees

To me, ‘old fart’ is a state of mind: Slow living, lingering under the shade of a tree, I imagine a way of life our ancestors enjoyed. My Dad had a sense for this style of living and thought all his children should have an area suitable for fruit bearing trees, an orchard. You see, orchards and gardens are essential for an ‘old fart’ way of living. In fact, years ago when we moved into a new house, Dad gave us several fruit bearing trees and instructed us to “heal in your trees”. We planted a giant persimmon, a Fuji persimmon, apricot, nectarine, orange and lemon. Eventually, I named our ‘family’ of trees. The first to receive a name was our apricot tree, ‘Bud’ as he was the first bud of spring. ‘Nectar’, our nectarine bore fruit for a few seasons but was a runt of the litter and eventually died. I called the persimmons, ‘Pers’ and ‘Simon’. Of the two, Pers succumbed to tree heaven but Simon thrives and produces abundant fruit like autumn jewels.

I named our first blooming citrus ‘Blossom’ and the second, ‘O.J.’, an orange tree. After a year, we were shocked. O.J. had produced lemons!  We chuckled then as we do now. At the time, O.J. Simpson turned out to be a lemon, himself. Of the two, O.J. thrives and Blossom has birthed no more than a dozen oranges in a dozen years. Dad said the problem was “you got no bees”. Not true, bees swarm everywhere in our garden, around the rosemary, chives and herbs of all kinds. I’ve fed Blossom with citrus fertilizer and tried everything. Maybe she’s a late ‘bloomer’. Time will tell.

Neither we nor my Dad stopped here. In the orchard, we added two apples, ‘Apple’ & ‘Annie’. Along the back fence, we planted three Chinese mandarins for espalier, another gift from Dad. I received ‘Babs’, a blood orange, from my friend Jill who knew my tradition of naming trees. If that isn’t enough, fast growing, immediate fruit and foliage and zestful volunteers, there are also five loquat trees pruned like ‘umbrellas’ for foliage.

In the front garden were two crepe myrtles, ‘Myrt’ and ‘Myrtle’, a Tulip Magnolia, ‘Tulip’ and the gift of a Himalayan Birch, I named ‘Buddha’.  Rounding out our family of trees were two Bay Laurel, one I named ‘Otis’, “sitting on the doc of the bay”, the other, ‘Laurel’, started from a single two inch seedling. Rick and I said that any tree could live in our garden as long as they provided food and design material.

One summer, when visiting my cousin Rikki, we spotted two well aged wooden chairs ready for the dump yard. We’ll take them! The chairs were perfect in the orchard under our apricot tree. We could sit under the tree like ‘old farts’! Eventually the wooden chairs, well aged and to the point of falling apart had to be retired for another set of weathered wood chairs.

We looked around: 29 trees surrounding our home on our small lot and, we were not finished yet. We purchased and planted 6 grape vines. Now we had a ‘Vineyard’: Seedless Thompson, red and green, as well as others. We were ecstatic!


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