Autumn is ... apples, red leaves, walnuts

Most of the trees we have planted at our 'permanent retreat' in Pohangina Valley (see Life changes) are New Zealand natives - and to the greatest extent possible, trees native to this area (see Undoing environmental history (with a spade)). However, I was willing to bend this rule for two kinds of trees - ones that provide autumn colour and ones that provide things to eat.

For the autumn colour, I invested in six liquidambar trees to line the driveway. There are a dazzling array of liquidambars (also known as American Sweetgum) and unable to make up my mind, I chose two kinds - the 'original' Liquidambar styraciflua with leaves that turn yellow, orange, red and purple, and the Worpleston, with leaves that turn a deep purpley colour. Though this is only their first autumn, and they are still fairly wee, they haven't disappointed - a sample of colour shown here.

And country living means having at least a modest orchard. We have never had fruit trees - well, apart from a lemon and feijoa tree, which don't really count as you can't really go too far wrong with them. So I ended up choosing a Liberty apple tree, which is known for its resistance to disease, and therefore reasonably indestructable, even for a novice. Here is the first apple of the season (a third of the entire crop for this year, so treated with great reverence). It fell off slightly prematurely, when we were reinforcing the barrier around the tree so that Lamby didn't climb up and nibble on the foliage (as he has done before, despite being in a paddock full of juicy grass ... that's sheep for you!).

Now, on the walnut front. After much deliberation (grafted walnut trees are not cheap), we chose a Meyric, known for its good 'crack-out ratio'. (This means that the nut is quite large comparative to the shell. In some varieties, the shell is impressive but the nut disappointingly small.) However, the walnut has failed to bear fruit this year. Perhaps still a bit young. Or perhaps sulking because I forgot what I had to spray on it and when. Hopefully next autumn!

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