Tag Archives: apple trees

Manitoba Gold – Fall Colours

I grew up in Quebec where fall colours are celebrated. As a child I recall how the radio announcer would breathlessly advise us that this week the colours were declared to be at their peak. My parents would take us on a drive to the Laurentians to see the display. During our full time travel trailer life, my husband and I moved slowly south and we got to enjoy those fall colours beginning in Boston and moving south for nearly nine weeks before we reached Florida. Part of our journey overlapped with a formal RVer tour that began in Newfoundland and followed the leaves south to Florida. The participants just raved about how great that trip was.

Fall in Manitoba is different and a bit of a disappointment by comparison. One reason is that there are no full sized trees that turn flaming red and purple the way it happens in the east. Here the colour of the tallest trees is invariably gold tones. Red and purple and deep oranges are only found in the understory. Plus, with a few exceptions Manitoba is so flat. There is no display climbing the mountain sides. Once I got used to the difference, I began to appreciate Manitoba’s subtler fall scenery. This week the colours are in full glorious display. I am enjoying this beauty a lot more this year.

This little tree is a hardy apricot. It is supposed to produce apricots when it matures even growing in our fridge Zone 3a region. I bought two of them for the possibility of my husband’s favourite fruit, assuming we should live so long. Imagine my delight to discover this little apricot tree turns as brilliant an orange as any of the finest oranges in Quebec. Planting this tree was an act of faith in our future.
This bush is turning from the top down. It almost looks like it is on fire. The green spruce beside it was only six inches tall when we moved in. It doesn’t seem like our fifth fall here already but it is.
Here is an example of how reds are limited to the understory in Manitoba. These vines are as red and lovely as any Quebec maple. You just have to look down not up to find red.
The tamarack, a close relative of the Siberian larch, is a native tree that tolerates wet. After having two regal evergreens die in this low spot always damp to soaked, I put a tamarack seedling in instead. It has thrived. The tamarack turns a brilliant gold in the fall, drops its needles, and then grows new ones in the spring. This little tree is halfway to gold now and is the prettiest bright yellow/green.
My neighbour’s glorious paper birches turn a particularly brilliant gold bringing me much pleasure in fall. Bonus: I don’t have to rake those leaves.
I took this picture on a very windy day. I didn’t see the bumblebee taking shelter there until afterward. Clever bee, shelter and food in one spot. The sunflower is a wonderful contrast of yellow and brown. I plant Russian giants every year and almost always have a few blooming in the fall. I leave them standing through the winter and the birds always pick the seeds clean.
This aging apple tree is called by the locals here a “throwing apple” tree. It sits on the edge of our property looking more wretched and miserable each year. The apples taste like wood and have a texture only slightly better than sawdust, hence they are good for nothing but throwing. Once the fruit has frozen, it gets soft, slightly ferments and sweetens. Still unfit for humans, deer love to come into town to eat them in winter. The tree goes from green straight to brown but the apples have a lovely soft peach tinted orange this time of year, adding a cheerful variation on the fall colours. So we let it continue its slow decline because of its redeeming qualities.

I see some parallels with my fall experience and my own aging. When I think only of the beautiful fall colours I had in my youth in another place and time, Manitoba gold seems subdued, less. But when I stop comparing this to my memories of the past and concentrate on what I have here and now, Manitoba Gold is stunning and wonderful.

Frost!

When you live up near the 51st parallel as we do, frost in late spring is a constant threat. Here it is May 29 and my tomatoes plants spent the night sitting in their pots because I knew this might happen. Container gardening is much more popular in this region for that reason. Now one might think that our short season means no time for vegetable growing and for some crops that is the case. It is a rare thing to get a full sized watermelon up here. However our days are long enough here that the plants grow at a tremendous rate, My pepper plants are already making peppers and my tomatoes will be transplanted into the garden already blooming. The frost issue is a constant fear though. Last year we had a frost that killed off the tops of my zucchini plants and took several of my tomatoes and cucumbers. This year I have been far more diligent about repotting into larger pots instead of putting things in the garden and keeping things longer in my popup tent greenhouse. Yesterday, after two weeks of lovely frost free summery weather, I moved everything back under cover. I am running out of room and some of the tomatoes plants are getting tall and spindly. We typically get weather that comes in three day rounds. We have a forecast for risk of frost tonight to be followed by hot summer weather in the 30C range (86F) so the plan is tomorrow all the bedding plants get planted. They will love it, growing freely in the garden with heat and sunshine.

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The other awful thing about these late frosts is it makes getting fruit problematic at best. A bad frost on the wrong day means that particular fruit tree will not produce any fruit at all. My husband was very disappointed because last year’s late frost happen just when the apple blossoms were in their full glory and we did not get even one single apple. Every tree in town was similarly affected. The strip along the Railway Ave (so named where there used to be a railway there sixty years ago) there is a strip of apple trees planted which are available to anyone who wants the fruit they produce. My husband took great pleasure in making fresh apple juice from them. Last year there was no apple juice. However the saskatoon bushes were not yet blooming and so they produced abundantly. The previous year the last late frost came later and hit the saskatoon bushes and so we had no saskatoons that year.

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Now that we have stopped our nomadic life and there is no sign we will start it up again, we are looking at our lovely little home for things that will make life easier and better. I have decided to make myself a proper greenhouse. We were going to buy a professional one but the $4000 price tag for the simplest model that can withstand our prairie wind and snow loads ruled that idea out. I have been consulting Pininterest and youtube for ideas and I now have a plan. I think I should be able to make myself a nice greenhouse for under $800. We shall see.

You may recall I was in a state of fearful despair after a bad diagnosis last September. I planted daffodils and crocuses in response. Not one crocus made it but we enjoyed a glorious and lovely brief blast of daffodils that gave us both great joy. Daffodils can take a late unexpected frost and come out unscathed.

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