Seasonal Serendipity

Apple orchardBy Debra Knapke

I wasn’t looking for a new apple; it found me.

On a chilly morning at the end of October I picked my last two pecks of apples, Goldrush and Staymen Winesap at Lynd’s Fruit Farm in Pataskala, Ohio.  At the checkout, Andy Lynd offered me an apple that hasn’t been named yet.

Imagine a glowing, golden, perfectly formed apple accented with a red flush.  My first bite was apricots and summer wine with a hint of mango and kiwi.  The texture was crystally, crunchy… there are no other words to describe its texture.  And, like a fine wine, the best flavor notes lingered; reminding me of the perfume of apple flowers.

It is dangerous to be driving and eating an apple that is this good.

Even though the apple picking season has ended, there are plenty of other apple-based pleasures to anticipate.  While Michael is looking forward to the lull in the garden tending, I haven’t left fall – yet.  I am thinking of what all my apples will turn into: muffins, apple pie, applesauce, baked apples, dried apples and more.

And, I am dreaming of that golden Atalanta* apple that I hope to pick soon at Lynd’s.  Next year?

If you would like to explore more apple offerings, check out Debra’s article, “The Apple ”, beautifully illustrated by Brooke Albrecht, in the Fall Issue of EdibleColumbus.Apples on tree

* For those who may not remember the myth…  Atalanta was a fierce huntress devoted to Diana.  She avoided marriage by setting up a challenge:  she would only marry the man who could best her in a foot race.  Any suitor who could not outrun her would forfeit his life.  Hippomenes (or Melanion, in some renditions) fell in love with Atalanta and appealed to Aphrodite for help.   Aphrodite gave Hippomenes three golden apples along with the instruction to throw one out each time Atalanta started to pass him.  These enticing apples slowed Atalanta enough to allow Hippomenes to finish first and end Atalanta’s unmarried state.

The Guilty Gardener

By Michael Leach

Are you a guilty gardener? Do you appear to mourn the passing of the growing season with appropriate remorse and gloom, but can’t quite hide a twinkle in your eyLeach garden (11)e? Is there a certain hollowness in your sighs and tut-tuts about the demise of the gardening season and onset of winter?

I confess to feeling relief after the first walloping frost blackens tender plants. And why not? There are just so many times I can handle the “ings” of gardening:  watering, weeding, fertilizing, trimming, raking, sweeping, fretting, pleading, and cursing. (Plenty of opportunity remains for that last item, as watering houseplants is always fraught with spills, drips and splatters. But I digress.)

My advice — rejoice. We are into the season when the landscape becomes a grand dried floral arrangement.

Granted, chores remain. For me there are still evergreens to trim and shape. This I do around Thanksgiving to provide materials for a few Christmasy, winter-theme decorations. Outdoor containers are stuffed with evergreen branches and red twig dogwood stems to make them seem lifelike. Fortunately these branches won’t need a single “ing” for months. About thLeach garden (9)e time they begin looking ratty, it’s practically pansy season, and life is returning to the scene.

Even dragging the heavy patio chairs into the garage, has a certain delight –I’ve almost crossed every item off the chore list.

There is one gardening tie that even a killing frost can’t break. Being fond of fresh food, I cultivate cold-tolerant collards, kale and turnips under row covers in the vegetable garden. They are largely on autopilot. Harvests tend to be skimpy in January but by late February, longer and slightly wLeach garden (22)armer days prompt them to grow again. Sort of the same thing happens to me in late February.

By then I tire of hours of reading, tucked under a thick afghan on the sofa, whiling away weeks of seemingly endless nights.

We gardeners are rather like children building sand castles. We play amongst our plants for months. Somewhere about mid-autumn the fun wears thin, but we refuse to admit it. Children secretly hope for a big wave to give them a respite, gardeners a killing frost. We return refreshed and excited to our pleasures, whether in the surf or the soil.

Favorite Flora: Fall Fruits

Which is fairer – fall foliage or fall fruits?

By Teresa Woodard

As I visit a few Midwestern gardens this fall, no doubt, the colorful foliage steals the show. But, as I take a closer look at trees especially now that their foliage is disappearing, I’m especially drawn to those with lingering colorful fall fruits. They definitely add another element of interest in the fall landscape and also offer a valuable food source for birds and wildlife.

Here are seven trees and shrubs with fall fruits to admire and possibly add to your backyard:

  • Crabapples (Malus): Yellow and red fruits hang on through the winter feeding a host of cardinals and robins in our front yard.
  • Dogwood (Cornus): The American varieties (Cornus florida) boast both colorful fall foliage and attractive white berries while the Japanese varieties (Cornus kousa) offer nubby red orbs that are even edible for humans.
  • Deciduous hollies: Two native shrubs, winterberry (Ilex verticillata) and possumhaw (Ilex decidua) lose their leaves to display branches laden with berries in winter.
  • Hawthorne (Crataegus phaenopyrum): This ornamental landscape tree is noted for its white flowers in spring and orange-red fruits in autumn and winter.
  • Beautyberry (Callicarpa): When I first saw this shrub at an arboretum, I was amazed by its bright purple fruit clusters. For Midwestern climates, try a hardier variety like Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Issai’
  • Spicebush (Lindera benzoin): As I remove honeysuckle from our woods, I’m adding these native shrubs which have much more nutritional fruits than their invasive counterparts.
  • Chinese fringe tree (Chionanthus retusus): Profuse fragrant white spring blooms give way to olive-shaped fruits that turn deep blue in fall and serve up a good treat for birds and wildlife.

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