Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Petty's Orchard

In a search for new apple scion wood bordering on madness I found myself driving to Templestowe on Sunday to visit the heritage apple orchard at Petty's Orchard and run by the Heritage Fruits Society (HFS). Although I had missed their purpose built 'Apple Grafting Day' some weeks previous (which I will continue to kick myself over), I had hoped that there might be some bits of wood left. On arrival I met John who runs the commercial operation at Petty's and oversees the orchard as a whole. He pointed me in the direction of the HFS guys who must have seen me coming and made a smart decision to pack it in for the afternoon. As luck would have it, I managed to pin down Ian and Fred, the big cheeses of the HFS just as they were about to leave and introduced myself. Unfortunately, almost tragically, I had missed the box of scion wood by minutes and logistically speaking I was more or less out of luck. More importantly though I was able to have a chat with Ian and Fred about the heritage apple orchard they maintain with its 200 varieties and the opportunities available for the aspiring orchardist, such as myself. I'm looking forward to going back in a months time when the blossom has hit to roll up my sleeves and help out in a real apple orchard. Plus they said they're gonna burn things and you wouldn't even need to be a gardener to enjoy that!

Various styles of pruning and training are used in the heritage orchard. Can they compete with my style of not quite knowing what I'm doing including grafting with calipers and weeding with sterilized tweezers? Only time will tell.
Wildlife! It's all so very different close up isn't it. Its terribly important to have some water fowl in your orchard, I must remember to get some,
On the way home I found out that Templestowe can be a mysterious and truley magical place. Undeniably influence by back to the future II and III, someone had tried their hand at converting a Commodore station wagon into a time travelling Delorean! Clearly they've run into a few teething problems as they've not been able to decide whether to go for the flying version from BTTFII (refer to rear wheel) or the esoteric railcar variety from BTTFIII (front).
You've got to make up your mind on which wheels to have. For me its always the flying one (left).
Here's the piece of 'Bonza' scion wood that Fred was kind enough to give me as a consolation prize. It's interesting, I can't think of any other pursuit in life where the gifting of a small stick could convey such meaning and gratitude as in the noble field of Orcharding. Perhaps in that dependable union of (Hu)man and dog, but slobber and teeth marks do not a good piece of scion wood make.

I wasted no time grafting it to a main branch of the Sturmer tree in the orchard. While these trees are just starting out I think it's an ideal time to add new varieties to these 'founding' branches so they can become a significant part of the tree.
Note: The spell checker in Firefox refuses to acknowledge the existence of the word 'orchardist', suggesting in its place 'harpsichordist'. Sigh...

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