Apple blossom

Posted: Tuesday 8 May 2012
by James Alexander-Sinclair

I have been much entertained recently by apple blossom. It seems to be one of the few cheerful things among this world of grey mizzle and universal dreariness [...]

Apple blossom

I have been much entertained recently by apple blossom. It seems to be one of the few cheerful things among this world of grey mizzle and universal dreariness (except in the west of Scotland, where it has been unflinchingly gorgeous).

We have three apple trees that have been chucking out glorious flowers as pinkly white as a basket of softened cherubs. Apple blossom lacks the romance of cherry blossom, but has still inspired everyone from painters to florists to songwriters. (Most recently the White Stripes, whose song includes the excellent lyric ”Hey, little apple blossom / What seems to be the problem?”)

Blossom is yet another reason for growing apple trees, in addition to pies, crumbles, jellies and other things upon which can be poured heroic quantities of cream. Recently I have planted a couple of blossom orchards for clients; orchards where the fruit is not as important as the soaringly gorgeous few weeks in spring when blossom (apple and otherwise) reigns supreme. The idea being to drop a few ornamental trees in amongst the workhorse fruit producers, just for the hell of it.

My three favourite (not necessarily fruity) blossom trees are:

Prunus ‘Tai Haku’: the absolute bees knees when it come to cherry blossom.

Pyrus ‘Chanticleer’: pure white with floating black sepals. This is an ornamental pear grown for its blossom and stately, columnar shape. It does produce fruits, but they are small and inedible.
Amelanchier lamarckii: not even slightly fruity, but does bear beautiful pinky white blossom in early April.

I could also add various varieties of crab apple (Malus ‘Red Sentinel’ is a particular favourite), other cherries and ornamental hawthorns to the list.

The flowers are there, of course, to attract pollinating insects and therefore to ensure good fruit, which means that the plant produces seed to produce the next generation. It is not for our benefit at all but, but as we are here, we might just as well enjoy ourselves.

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Happy Flower 08/05/2012 at 16:38

I am lucky enough to own the last Bramley apple tree from a former orchard that was sited on the land where mine and my neighbours houses now sit. It currently has some beautiful blossom on it and really does cheer the soul on a miserable Norfolk day. It also produces rather good apples which made some yummy apple and ginger jam last year, amongst other sweet treats encased in pastry!

happymarion 08/05/2012 at 17:45

Snap, Bleeding Heart, My bungalow sits on the site of a farmer's orchard and the Bramley was old when we moved in 48years ago. It is a great delight when in blossom and fruit. And this nasty weather we have been having does not seem to have bothered it at all.

gardeningfantic 08/05/2012 at 18:29

i ahve an old bramley too.. teh last few years have been up and down.. one year only one apple on it.. last year not to bad.. weather effects them i think.. not enough rain and they drop fruit.

Evilstampywoman 08/05/2012 at 18:35

I have 2 quinces, 4 apples, I crab apple and a damson and the blossom on all of them is delightful. All different, all glorious.

Judith Evans 24/05/2012 at 17:43

My employer has an old, old Bramley which has produced tons of gorgeous apples over the years...however....this year the blossom is almost finished, what is left has gone brown and if the teeny, tiny apples left behind are touched they promptly fall off. Our ancient gardener prounounced "water starvation" despite the  fact that we've had torrential rain over the past several weeks and the ground was waterlogged.  Admittedly we live in West Sussex which is still officially in drought, but we've always had an amazing crop.

We're wondering if this could be a ollination problem.....there haven't been the usual high number of bees lately.

Do any of you apple growers out there have any suggestions?  All advice gratefully received.

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