It was opportunistic orcharding at its finest.
A week or so ago, in what could only be described as a face-slapping sign from the local gardening deities (doubtless impatient with my lack of any noticeable progress in their nominal realm), I received both a package from Raintree Nursery and a surprise visit from my parents, in the same afternoon. Both visitations happily resulted in bare-root fruit trees.
From Raintree (those fine purveyors of all things fruiting you can stick in the ground; seriously, if you haven't already, check out their catalog) this was my order of four trees I had vacillated over for the better part of two months. It turns out, the delay was all on my end, for once I actually placed the order they were incredibly prompt with delivery.
And from my parents, a wonderful housewarming gift of two (!) espaliered, combination apples. These babies, for anyone wondering, are the nifty offspring of sorcery and pomology: they are short, stout bare root trees with six different apple varieties grafted onto each trunk, the branches all aligned in a plane so that the whole tree can be sited flat against a fence, wall, etc. and not take up your whole yard. There is no better way to grow so many different apple varieties in such a small amount of space. Methinks my father sensed my growing anxiety over selecting only a few fruit trees and came up with the perfect solution. Parents are just the best.
So at that point, I had an orchard of sorts. The problem was: half of it was lying in a shipping box stuffed with newspaper, and half of it was propped up against the house in a black plastic bag. I do not need to tell you that this is not an optimal arrangement for long term orchard vitality and production. Nevertheless, such was the fate of Fencebroke's tree-fruit legacy for over a week. Because, you know, it can be hard to prepare, plant and stake an orchard while LIFE is happening, and RAIN and SNOW are spitting all over LIFE and BABY is spitting all over LIFE and WORK is flagellating BODY and TIME exists only in fleeting, three minute episodes. So I stared, with guilt and trepidation, at my precious orchard. I pictured its roots rotting, its buds falling off, just another casualty of modern LIFE.
But then, on yet another Monday afternoon initially written off to cold rain, just when I thought this orchard thing would never happen, the clouds unexpectedly parted, birds sang … and dirt flew. The next several hours became a blur of digging forks, spades and torn-up sod. Supervised by our pleased firstborn, Daisy, who perhaps sensed the unfurling of her expansive, landed birthright, my wife and I worked together, earnestly breaking ground at Fencebroke Promontory, and by the end of the day, an orchard had sprouted!