If I were lucky enough to own a field, I would plant an apple orchard. Not because of any particular fondness for the fruit, worthy though it is. You see, the best thing about an apple tree happens now, not at harvest time – it’s the apple blossom.
Of all spring flowering trees, apple’s the best– at least in my humble opinion. Cherry, plum and pear are pretty, but apple blossom’s magical.
Maybe it’s a memory thing – there was an elderly apple tree in our garden when I was small, and as everyone knows, the sun always shone in spring when you were young and outdoors – and I was the kind of child who made friends with trees (I still am – in fact it’s probably A Thing to be friends with trees in these days of mindful, nature embracing wellness slash awareness . And as a huge plus, you can actually visit, hang out with and hug your tree friends right now , even if your interne connection’s rubbish ).
I have a tiny apple tree which has lived in a pot all its life – it’s one of those ‘coronet’ ones, grafted onto a dwarfing rootstock for this very reason, and this is where I get my fix every April. Its titchy size allows you to get up close to each flower and see how the rose pink and ivory white blend together in each satiny petal. As the tight little buds open into blossom in the spring sunshine, you can see right into the golden stamens of each flower. You can breathe in the delicious scent, being careful not to ‘inhale’ any pollen -hungry bees who, I find, are not keen on having their personal space invaded.
Yesterday, I was so fed up with Zoom, Hangouts and Instagram all refusing to co-operate that several devices were in danger of grevious bodily harm. So I took my kindle and a glass of wine outside and sat beneath the crab apple tree, figuring that if nature didn’t calm me down, the pinot grigio would do the trick. (It did). But the apple blossom definitely helped. Once I’d stopped swearing mentally, I became aware of a gentle humming – a soothing, background buzz that was just a joy to listen to. Dozens of bees were at work on the petals, feeding on the nectar and pollinating the flowers. Remember when you were little and tucked into bed or maybe dozing off by the fire and you could hear your mum pottering about doing little houseworky things in the background and finding that really comforting? It was kind of like that. Like, you can just chill out here and we’ll carry on about our business as usual – because of course they are, as far as the bees are concerned, there’s no working from home, no flying restrictions and no global pandemic. What a lovely thought……
Remember the Coca Cola ad where they sang ‘I’d like to build the world a house?’ Well, I’d like to build the world an apple orchard. The orchard of my dreams has ancient, venerable trees, with blossom-laden boughs bending down to just the right height for inhaling the perfumed blossom. There’s a comfortable seat underneath the nicest tree, which is some kind of delicious heritage variety, and it’s never wet or windy at apple blossom time. The grass – which is never damp, obviously – is spangled with daffodils, and in summer, meadow wildflowers. Fully laden picnic baskets are thoughtfully placed at appropriate intervals. And there’s a wine list.
Should I ever win the lottery, I’ll leave the island- shopping to someone else – I’ve already decided what I’m buying the nation.