|My father was always amazed at the size of the apples produced by the tree in our back yard. This year they're as big as ever -- here they dwarf a tea mug in my kitchen.|
|Sadly, the tree is on the way out. It has European canker and we have been struggling for years to keep it alive. Many branches have been removed, and its leaf cover is thin.|
My father liked fixing machinery a lot more than he liked farming, but he never lost his interest in seeing things grow. Especially useful things that produced food, like the big old apple tree in my back yard.
He was fascinated by that tree, and every year when its apples were ready to be picked, he marvelled at the size of the crop. And even more at the size of the apples, which were huge, the size of softballs on steroids. "I wonder how many tons of apples that tree has produced over the years?" I remember him musing as he stood under it, looking up.
The tree was mature when we bought our house 40-plus years ago, so it is probably about 70 years old by now. But for the last decade or so, it's been in decline -- many branches have died off, moss is thriving on it, and a vertical split has appeared in its trunk. Our tree guy says it has European canker, and he is trying to extend its life with spraying, pruning and fertilizing every spring. But for the last few years, there have been no apples.
This year he didn't prune it because we thought the tree might have to be cut down when the nearby oil tank was dug out. But it survived, and this summer we noticed glimmers of red in its knotty, leaf-sparse branches. On Saturday, there were two enormous apples on the grass beneath it.
As I picked them up, I thought of dad. He would have been delighted to see those apples; pleased that after all these years, his favourite old tree is still producing food.
|The appearance of a vertical split in the tree trunk doesn't bode well for the tree's longevity.|
|An example of what the branches look like -- there are always dead parts.|
|Arbourists say moss doesn't kill trees, but it doesn't make them look very healthy. This is a close-up look at one of the apple tree's branches.|
|Another view of the crown of the tree. Even though its leaves are sparse, they still block out some of the house next door. We'd miss it if it was gone.|