Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Confused crabapple August 14, 2010

Filed under: flora,oddities,trees — greenwalks @ 8:44 pm
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What the huh?

Confused crabapple

(Photo taken on August 13, 2010)

My spindly parking strip ornamental crabapple trees, which I keep threatening to remove but somehow never do, just did the strangest thing. Perhaps distracted by the recent and unusual-for-August spate of cool, wet weather, they put out a new bunch of leaves and, even odder, some more blossoms.

As far as I know, they have never done this before, and both trees are at it.

Has anyone else experienced this? Am I wrong to find it bizarre?? I’m not complaining – they look a little less terrible this way. Just puzzled.


The Power of Pink April 28, 2009

One benefit of blogging about public spaces is that it’s making me look around a lot more this year and enjoy what’s going on in gardens other than my own. I don’t think I recall having noticed these trees in bloom before, even though they are right around the corner from my house.

Powerful pink flowering crabapple trees

My borrowed camera does not do justice to the intense purply-pink of the flowers. They are stop-in-your-tracks gorgeous.

The petals are thick and fleshy, and looking up into them they almost completely blot out the sky.

Zowie pink crabapple flowers

A few days after I took these pictures, I saw the owner coming out of his house and asked if he knew anything about the trees. He said he thinks they are crabapples, and that they do require a couple of rounds of spraying per year to keep them in good health and blooming so splendidly. My plant bible says that purple-flowering (and -leaved) crabapple, Malus x purpurea, is highly prone to both fireblight and apple scab. If that’s what they indeed are, then the sprays are probably for those reasons. I wonder if they’re using organic/non-harmful controls? I didn’t feel like I could ask that, already having been kind of nosy.

The petals are still hanging in there this week, although they will probably start to come down as the rains return today after a long departure. I’m going to make sure to walk underneath at least once more before their ephemeral beauty departs until next April.

Pink crabapple blossoms


Winter Crabapples January 7, 2009

After yet another snowfall the other day, I spotted this parking strip crabapple and had to stop, slog through the slush, and take some photos. I have complained about my own crabapples, which are spindly and perhaps have been poorly pruned, but these ones had a nice shape and the color of their fruit is really pleasing. Plus, they looked pretty with the snow melting off of them.

Crabapple in winter

I’m not sure why the birds have left these alone – maybe they are too tart even for our avian friends? I know there are fans of crabapple jelly out there, it seems like kind of a green tomato thing to me but hey, whatever floats your culinary boat.

Raintree Nursery has a lot of crabapple varieties. They can be used as ornamentals, for their fruit (usually for preserves), and also as pollinators for regular apple trees.

Snow melting off crabapples


Crabby About Crabapples October 7, 2008

The previous gardener at my place got a couple of free crabapple trees from the city and planted them in the parking strip. These ones don’t have very showy flowers, their fruits are tiny and useless (the birds even seem to shun them), and their habit is spindly to say the least. They are really unimpressive trees and I am working up the energy to get an official permit to take them out and put in something better.

My weird crabapple trees

Would you agree that they need to go? I know some people love crabapples, particularly their flowers. At the UW Arboretum the other weekend, I did see a nice, old Malus sargentii specimen covered with deep-red fall fruit, and I imagine its spring blossoms are spectacular. Although it’s a beauty, this tree has a low, spreading habit, so it’s not very practical for an urban gardener like me.

Crabapple fruit at UW Arboretum

Any votes for what trees to plant once the sad, spindly crabs are gone? It can’t be anything that gets too big, as we have a sliver of a mountain view from our front windows that we’d like to preserve. I’m also concerned about root issues, since I want to continue to plant drought-tolerant perennials and some annuals/veggies in that area.