by Pam Mount
Gary is known far and wide for his apple tree growing expertise. He has planted 100 different varieties of apples and many (all) in experimental ways.
It all started in 1975 when we bought Terhune Orchards’ 55 acres of mostly apple trees (some peaches and a few pears). All huge trees which had grown on Cold Soil Road for at least 50 years before we arrived. Huge trees, 20 feet or more tall, grown 35 feet apart per acre. We tried hard at the beginning to get know these trees – each with root system under the ground as huge as the trees above the ground. It turned out that no matter how big the trees grow, the apples only thrive on the outside 2 feet of the branches. All the other space on the trees is taken up by the trunk and big branches. So many hours were spent up in the air 30 feet trending, pruning, spraying, picking up and down 24-foot ladders.
So understand Gary is never satisfied with “let’s do it the same as last apple tree planting.” Much more like “let’s try something new.” This may have something to do with being on the board of the International Dwarf Fruit Tree Association. We learned that dwarf root systems keep the tree small at 8 feet tall and can be grown many more per acre – thus many more 2-foot branches holding many more apples. So we cut down most of the huge trees – except for the 50 or so trees in the front of the farm.
I call this orchard my romance orchard because who wouldn’t want a kiss under a huge apple branch. Gary calls the orchard “work.” So we held onto these trees, pruning them back some. A few years ago during the pandemic, the romance orchard became our wine orchard – even better than a kiss. We love these old trees and sitting in the orchard to enjoy a glass of wine and the view.
This year I decided we should celebrate these long-lived trees with an art contest. During the month of September, any and all artists are welcome to paint or draw or represent any way they want our century apple trees. Then submit the artwork by September 30th to be judged by Micheal Madigan (Elaine’s husband and well-known local artist) and David Bosted historian and trustee and board member of the Ellarslie Museum in Trenton.
Please submit your artwork to the farm store at Terhune Orchards by September 30th. The work must be “ready to hang” for two shows – the first at the farm on Friday October 7th and the second at opening night on Sunday October 9th at the Ellarslie. Shows will continue until December.
No charge for submission but all pieces must be “ready to hang.”