This is our ‘steady’ apricot – the one that fruits every year.
It’s sitting on a carpet of its own yellow leaves with a great many more leaves to shed.
It’ll need quite heavy pruning next February, I think.
This is the every-other-year apricot tree laden with fruit.
I picked half-a-dozen ripe ones today but the rest are not quite there yet.
This is the every-other-year apricot tree in full blossom regalia, exuding a delicious blossomy scent.
I took the photo just before it was subjected to vicious wind and driving rain.
The bumblebees, which seem to be primary pollinators, will be tucked up in their nests. Even without being un-aerodynamic they wouldn’t stand a chance, so I hope we get some still and sunny days soon.
I’ve almost finished pruning the fruit trees – just a few exotics to go: a jujube tree which has only fruited once, a persimmon tree, two bushes, and some plum ‘scrub’ across the front edge by the house.
Then it’s on to the roses and the buddleias!
Clive sat on a bench by the patio door while I was at it today – his first time properly out of doors. I realised afterwards his view of what I was up to was partly blocked by the wall. The idea had been for us to keep each other company, but for much of the time all he could see was branches and twigs mysteriously toppling!
The photo shows the first and (at this moment) only open flower on the every-other-year apricot tree.
It looks like it will be ‘its’ year this year – the twigs are crowded with fat dark pink buds.
Clive, the dark horse, unexpectedly used his walker to get into the kitchen for breakfast today. He stayed on for quite a while after and it was very handy to have a mathematician to help me work out the ridiculously fiddly quantities of ingredients for 1.5 litres of ‘pink bud’ spray.
I sprayed the nectarine tree, the almond tree, the apricot tree of the picture, and seven peach trees, some of them very small – four in front of the house and three behind.
I did it slightly earlier than I’d have chosen for some of the trees because the next few days are supposed to be wet, which doesn’t stop the flowers coming out but would stop me spraying!
Only the love of pruning could keep me in the orchard today – not even the duty by itself.
The wind is like a steel blade, slicing you through the midriff.
I’m pruning two trees a day so as hopefully to finish within February. Today it was the big apricot (arguably the finest tree in the orchard) and the nashi (oriental pear) next to it. One difficult and one easy.
I had a lot of sawing and lopping to do above my head for the apricot, while the nashi branches are comfortably accessible.
If our Tunisian handiman were doing this, he’d make much faster progress, but I don’t miss him. He wanted reliable work when he phoned at the beginning of last October, and I said we could offer it if he helped me with Clive at the beginning (setting up contraptions and aids so he could manoeuvre himself about). He declined and we haven’t heard from him since. Such is the wintry blast of illness and disability.
So I bash on, queen of the garden.
The photo is a close-up of a nashi bud which is so far advanced that it’s actually showing little frills of leaf. The shot went horribly wrong because I had to hold the twig to stop it dancing in the wind, but I rather like it as it is!
Our main, reliable apricot tree is at the far end of the orchard.
I forgot to check it just recently and was only alerted by jays flying out of it that the fruit is now ripe!
And how ripe.
There’s no way you can beat a tree-ripened apricot.
When you split it open and take out the stone, there’s juice lying in the hollow. It melts under your teeth.
The jays took surprisingly few and we got a basketful.
Some to eat raw, then jam, perhaps?