Story of Our Orchard: Fourteen heritage apple varieties were planted in the fall of 2020 in the newly expanded bed 137B. They were planted in two staggered rows of seven trees, following the general curve of the bed, so it gives the impression of an orchard, with a tree circle for each to protect it from mowing. All apple trees are on M9 rootstock (dwarf) and require staking. They will need regular prescriptive pruning to reduce incidence of disease, which these trees are prone to in our climate.Spacing will allow for 18 trees should we decide to add a couple more later on, as Pacific Northwest Propagators now has a nearly complete collection of the Bowen heritage orchard apple varieties
The orchard’s new apple trees were grown from scions obtained from John Riley, who owned the Bowen Island heritage orchard, one of the best heritage orchards in Southern BC. John hosted the annual heritage apple display at the Bowen apple festival every year until they sold their property a couple of years ago. They were all grafted on M9 rootstock in 2015.Before selling their property, the Rileys made sure most of the heritage apples in the Bowen Island orchard were propagated and will be available from Pacific Northwest Propagators as Jerome is maintaining stock plants.
The 14 chosen for planting in our orchard are those best adapted to VanDusen’s wetter climate (compared to Bowen). According to John, an expert in these matters, this collection will be “a first class heritage orchard, typical of what would have been grown by European settlers before World War I.”
The collection themehas been updated from the original defining criteria for the collection. The original Canadian Heritage Orchard featured a selection of heritage apple varieties introduced in Canada or bred by Canadian breeders. While the focus was on the Canadian history of the apples, the selection of varieties was more representative of what eastern Canadians would grow, not what you would find on the west coast. The criteria for the Canadian Heritage Orchard is now updated to include heritage apple or other fruit tree varieties that are representative of varieties the early settlers brought to be grown on the west coast. VanDusen’s orchard will now represent a heritage orchard typical of when settlers came to our region in the early 1900s, bringing apples from their home countries.
Apple tree (Malus domestica) cultivars planted in Sept 2020 (all on M9 dwarf rootstock, grafted in 2015, 2 gallon pots) ·’Baldwin’ ·‘Bietigheimer’ ·‘Blenheim Orange’ ·‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’ ·‘Duchess of Oldenburg’ ·‘Esopus Spitzenburg’ ·‘Glorai Mundi’ ·‘Gravenstein’ ·‘Grimes Golden’ ·‘Keswick Codlin’ ·‘Lemon Pippin’ ·‘Ribston Pippin’ ·‘Sweet Bough’ ·‘Yellow Transparent’
While we don't have a McIntosh apple tree, it is an important Canadian cultivar developed in Ontario.
2022 Update: Gardeners were trained in open-vase pruning techniques. Some branches were tied down earlier – this helps hormones flow to increase fruit production. As the trees age and are well-pruned, we will not have to do this so often.
Banner Photo: Richard Kelland / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0) Historic Photo: 1909 in the public domain from FRUIT RANCHING IN BRITISH COLUMBIA BY J. T. BEALBY, M.A.