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I grow an apple tree smack dab in the middle of the main part the garden, in one of the most noticeable places. It’s on one of the very dwarf root stocks so it won’t get huge and it has a somewhat wonky shape, as I think is somewhat common in apples.

Apple blossoms are the prettiest.

Almost every person who has seen my garden has commented on it, and often not in a good way. 

 “Oh. An apple tree! Right there!”
“Is that really an apple tree?”
“Are you planning to move that apple tree?”
I know. It’s sort of weird. We’re used to seeing apple trees growing in a segregated area with other fruit trees or on the periphery of an ornamental garden. It’s unusual to have one planted as a focal point.
I’ll tell you why I put that tree where I did:
  1. I was a nice sunny spot. Honestly, it was a practical decision.
  2. I needed some height in that spot but I wanted something airy that wouldn’t create a wall.
  3. I think it’s beautiful both in flower and when it’s fruiting.
And most of all …
The apple tree in full bloom and glaring morning sun.

I’ve learned so much about gardening since I first stuck my shovel in the ground here 15 years ago, but I’ve also learned a little something about human psychology: Everyone will not love every garden. No matter what I’ve done in my garden, someone (usually a neighbor because not lot of other people see it) will make one of those comments. You know the ones: They all sound nice, and many of them are, but some have that little twist to them. Or they use the word “interesting” which rarely means interesting. 

gala apples
A few of last year’s apples.

That used to bother me. I used start questioning what I was doing. You know what I do now? Nothing. I don’t care.

This revelation probably came as much through my experience as a gardener as it did through life experience (aka getting older) and gaining more confidence in general, but I realized a few years ago that I don’t care what anyone else thinks about my garden. That’s not to say that I’m not interested in other people’s opinions, particularly those of other gardeners, but they don’t unilaterally determine what will happen in my garden as they might have a few years ago. I’ve written about how having my friend Linda and her husband Mark stop by for a quick tour was one of the best things I’ve done for my garden because it allowed me to see my garden through different eyes.

The apple tree is in full bloom right now, and I dare you to show me a tree with blossoms as pretty as apple blossoms, particularly when they are right in your face. When the blooms fade, shiny green foliage will be the star (along with the clematis I grow up the tree), and then hopefully apples will dot the branches. To me, it really has all season appeal.

You might not think so. You might not ever aspire to have an apple tree in the middle of your garden. That’s OK. It’s your garden.


6 Responses

  1. Ha. I've planted fruit trees and berry bushes where ever there is enough space (and even then, I've squeezed them in). My "beds" look like jungles about mid-summer when everything is growing and blooming and producing like mad. And my neighbors…they used to say stuff like, "I'd be happy to come over and till your garden for you." (No thanks, I don't till–don't you know what that does to the microbes and worms and weed seeds?) Their yard is spotless–not a plant out of place or a weed dare make an appearance. They're both also retired and have way too much time on their hands. And for them, their yard works. It's beautiful, but every time I look at it over the fence, I can't help but think how much effort goes into that thing. Then I look at mine, with plants and bushes and trees growing where ever they've been planted (or managed to grow), where the bunnies play hide-and-go-seek, and the sunflowers that the birds planted grow tall (and the birds come back to enjoy the fruits of their labor), and the surprises–oh, my, the SURPRISES! What is that and did I plant it, and oh, how the bees & butterflies love it. And I think to myself, yeah, this is what I had in mind.

  2. We have a dwarf crabapple in our front yin/yang garden. Not Japanese at all given the space it's in. But you are right about them being multi-season plants. And I love that I can get my nose right into it! I'm always having people think my weeping purple beech is dying. It's so nice not to be bothered by those comments anymore.

  3. I think neighbors are the worst. I have had the most negative comments from neighbors. These are the same people that are cutting down trees faster than I can plant them. Everyone has their own way of gardening. That is what I think makes gardening so interesting. I love to see other gardens. When people come to your garden you just have to not take everything they say to heart. I always have to remember that not everyone is as crazy about plants as I am. I hear a lot about what a "jungle" this is, or how much work I have to do to keep this up, there isn't much grass left. Blah blah blah. Sometimes I hear things I like tho, such as 'it is like a park here', 'It is so private here on this busy street…. Gotta take the good with the bad and not worry about weeds. They happen.

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