No, I’m not going to talk about my car insurance, I just realized how much I love growing apple trees in my garden!

Malus 'Red Sentinel' (crab apple)

Malus ‘Red Sentinel’ (crab apple)

They seem to have made an arrangement to blossom altogether, somehow, and despite it could be a little overwhelming it is a great pleasure to me. The three crab apple trees (malus ‘Red Sentinel’) have been planted very small only two years ago, on the long bed that draw a line between the grass garden and the rose garden. They’ve grown quite fast and produce a lot of little red apples that last long in the cold season.

I always want more crab apples, so every time I see an interesting variety at a reasonable price, well, I get it.

Malus 'Coccinella' (crab apple)

Malus ‘Coccinella’ (crab apple)

Malus ‘Coccinella’ has been planted last autumn, with still a few dark red little apples hanging. It is now covered in pink flowers that looks like a million confetti. Too much pink for my taste but I like the copper green leaves, that turn a dark green later on. Last saturday, when I took the pictures, rain was forecasted and it was supposed to last all the weekend. It’s been a rather windy, dull day instead, with no rain. Sunday morning it was sunny and clear and Rudy woke me up early, jumping on my bed like a mad goat and singing “bonjour! bonjour! bonjour!…” (he’s taking french classes lately), how couldn’t I get up? I decided to get the most of the day starting with a visit to a rather close nursery and see if I could get some nice plants for the veggie garden and some summer annuals to fill up a few terracotta pots I have scattered around the house. I came home with a tray full of little tomato plants (pachino, a purple variety, some self standing ones, some big, some small, some early,… apparently I couldn’t make up my mind so I picked a few of everything), then I bought some aubergines and some sweet peppers as well as some chilies. I also bought a short plant of malus ‘Evereste’, quite similar to ‘Red Sentinel’ in blossom but then it produces yellow little fruits instead of red ones, I planted it on a pot under the pergola along with some other summer annuals to create a cozy spot for outdoor dinners. I’m rather satisfied with it, although I didn’t take any picture because I spend the whole afternoon potting up and then I realized I had a crazy amount of tomatoes to plant… Hopefully Monday it rained and the 25th it’s Bank holiday so I can go on with my job.

Left: San Pietro's pear, top right: quince apple bud, bottom right: apple 'Granny Smith' in flower

Left: San Pietro’s pear, top right: quince apple bud, bottom right: apple ‘Granny Smith’ in flower

But let’s stay focused on malus, which is what I came here for, today. Last fall I also planted a nice quince apple, which is actually a quince pear, although it is just a pyriform old cultivar which is apparently bigger (fruits up to 600 gr.) and sweeter, the label says you can also eat the fruit raw, the taste is not sharp. I’m really looking forward to tasting it since eating a raw quince apple sounds worse than biting a green lemon! The little plant is getting ready for a rather copious blossom, so I wonder if I’m going to taste a ‘quince pear’ next fall.

San Pietro’s pear instead will produce very small, sweet and scented green pears supposedly by the end of june, the 29th to be precise, on Saint Peter’s day. We’ll see.

Clockwise from top left: the cherry trees, muscari 'Green Eyes' with narcissus 'Sailboat', artichokes with cabbage 'Nero di Toscana' flowers and rosa banksiae 'Purezza' getting ready to burst into flower.

Clockwise from top left: the cherry trees, muscari ‘Green Eyes’ with narcissus ‘Sailboat’, artichokes with cabbage ‘Nero di Toscana’ flowers and rosa banksiae ‘Purezza’ getting ready to burst into flower.

Other than pears I guess I’m going to have a lot of cherries by june this year. The wild cherry on the left is just over and the ‘good’ cherry on the right takes its place. They always flowers in succession, overlapping their blossoms for only a couple of days. I think of them like two old lovers, leaning one onto the other, crossing their branches in a hug.

On the veggie garden the black cabbage’s ‘gone wild’ flowering like mad. I won’t cook ribollita for a while anyway and at the end of the day they make a good display.

Clockwise from top left: malus blossom, narcissus Hillstar with white muscari, a yellow flowered variegated lamium

Other things are flowering now in the garden, as I promised I posted a picture of narcissus ‘Hillstar’ with white muscari, at the end the white halo appeared and the muscari flowered… everything went smooth as planned (at least this time!!!). Talking about white muscari I discovered last year this close relative of muscari: bellevalia romana, it looks halfway beetween a muscari and a wild hyacinth but it’s white with purple stems and anthers, thinner than a hyacinth but taller than a muscari. I like it and it seems to self seeding freely.

Clockwise: bellevalia romana, muscari 'Green eyes', unknown tulip viridiflora

Clockwise: bellevalia romana, muscari ‘Green eyes’, unknown tulip viridiflora


34 thoughts on “Bonus-Malus

  1. I didn’t know you had so many fruit trees Alberto, and all doing so well this spring. I recently spoke with a man who makes hard apple cider, and he says that crabapples are best for that because they aren’t so sweet. He has trouble finding fruit because crabapple trees are not plentiful here– so you may have cider makers knocking at your garden one day, just letting you know. And cabbage flowers? Should I not have pulled up my gone-to-bloom cabbages so soon?

    • Oh yes, I guess you rushed too much with those poor cabbages! Their flowers looks so good.
      I don’t think I’m going to have a queue by the door for the little apples, cider is not commonly drunk in Italy and the little that is sold is imported.
      As for the fruit tree I also have a little persimmon. The funny thing is that I don’t like its fruits at all. I love the plant though.

      • There are specialty places here, called cider bars, very new. I prefer the beers from our (many many) small breweries. Or Oregon wines. I’ve never eaten a persimmon but the word is used to name nice colors on paint chips.

  2. ‘Red Sentinel’ and your other crabs are lovely. I have ‘Donald Wyman’, which has white flowers. We had a big old crab apple when I was growing up, and my mother would make crabapple jelly. Delicious! Your other fruit trees are awfully nice as well, do you have to do a lot of spraying?

    • That Donald Wyman was at the nursery, it was nice too! I’ve never taste crabapple jelly, I’m going to try and make it this year if the crop will be enough.
      I actually don’t spray at all my plants, all the apples are very tough plants, the San pietro’s pear gets some black spot toward the end of summer, but by that time the crop has already been harvested.

  3. Your garden has sprung into life in a big way! I wish I had more space to grow fruit trees. I do have two crab apples, Evereste and a red one that I’m not sure of the variety but the little apples stay on the tree until the following year. Christina

    • The other one might be Red Sentinel, it’s one of the most common in italian nurseries. I’m glad I have quite a show in the garden even in spring this year, I’ve worked on that last year and these are the results. Anything like your spring garden yet but give me another year or two… 😉

  4. Hi Alberto,

    Lovely apple trees; I really wish I had the space for my own little orchard or at least a few local fruit trees… One day maybe.

    ‘Hill Star’ looks really interesting! They’re almost always the other way around with yellow petals and a golden trumpet, also I’ve never seen the green eye Muscari… Will have to look out for it next year 🙂

    • Hi Liz, I’ve double checked the muscari name, the website where I bought them doesn’t list them anymore, searching the web doesn’t give any results and I can’t even find it on my personal notes. I was sure the name was Green Eyes, though. I’m sure I got them at, though, they sell good stuff.
      As for the orchard, maybe in the next garden you’ll have one. Although I don’t have an orchard, I planted some fruit trees around the garden, considering both utility and aesthetic features.
      Did you see Hillstar on my previous post? It opens completely yellow, then it becomes white.

  5. Oh, I just love crabapples. Yours are just gorgeous. I’m also impressed with your pear trees, and I’m a bit jealous of your cherry tree! (They don’t grow well here.) I also think your find, the bellevalia, is so sweet. Fabulous spring blooms!

    • Thank you, Holley! I found the cherry trees already planted in the garden when we bought the house, although their branches didn’t touch yet. Since we started poking around them, planting other little stuff, improving the soil and giving some water, they have grown a lot, I guess they were neglected before. I like them being so big and tall, even if picking the cherries could become an issue…

  6. Enjoyed visiting your garden this morning Alberto. Everything is lush and happy. The beautiful crabapples remind me of my garden mentor who gave me so many of my pass-along plants. She had a mature one in her front yard and shared many jars of crabapple jelly with us. The narcissus ‘Hillstar’ is striking too.

  7. Love, love, love the crabapples! Our neighbors has a particularly nice one that gets tiny little yellow fruit that stay on the tree for most of the winter…love them!

    • Hi Scott! I’m actually looking forward to seeing my crabapples to bulk up and honestly they are growing even quicker than expected, I’m proud of them!

  8. a wonderful selection of images Alberto, and I’m with you on Apple trees. I just bought/planted my first one, a beautiful dark pink blossom, I can’t wait to see what happens next 🙂 Happy gardening!

  9. Your crab apple trees are beautiful , and yes, you must make crab apple jelly, I will try and find a recipe for you. We used to have crab apples in our last garden, you have reminded me that I enjoyed the jelly made from them!

    • I really count on you for that recipe then! In exchange I could find a good recipe to cook a certain pheasant of yours if you want me to…

  10. Your crab apples are lovely! I haven’t heard of a quince apple, but the name does make my moth pucker a bit! I am envious of your cherries, so pretty and tasty, too.

    • Quince apples are normally very sharp if not completely ripen and even so they could be eaten only on jelly or somehow cooked. This variety I bought (called quince pear in italian) is supposed to be sweeter and could be eaten raw when ripen. Anyway I love having one or two of these fruits on my fruit basket in winter, they last like forever and they scent the entire dining room.

  11. I love that you have a weakness for fruit trees. Every garden should have more trees. 🙂 I’ve never heard of a quince apple either so I’m curious as to its taste. Keep us posted!

    • It is now covered in flowers and although the plant is still very young I’d like to taste a fruit or two next fall. So yes, I’ll keep you posted!

  12. Hi Alberto, thats almost an orchard you have there, fantastic apple blossom and that narcissus ‘Hillstar’ is just stunning.

    • Hi Alistair, thanks for your comment. I only have a few apple trees and a part for cherries there isn’t a lot of fruit to crop in my place yet.

  13. Ciao, Alberto! Lovely narcissus, lovely fruit trees, but even more… lovely pictures of the summer garden! Did you know crab apples are excellent impollinators for “normal” apple trees? If you don’t have them your neighbours will be happy!

    • Ciao Sabi! I do have a Granny Smith, planted last year, still don’t know if I’m going to taste some of its apples yet. Where have you been hiding all this time? winter has gone, come out of your cave!

  14. Alberto – I had one quince fruit from my dwarf quince bush last year, so I’ll be really jealous of your huge fruit. I see that you’re growing my favourite apple granny-smith, tart enough to make your taste buds tingle.

    • Hi b-a-g I don’t know your dwarf quince could be eaten… I know they’re good garden bushes and that they sometimes set fruits and that they are of the same genus but I guess they’re not as tasty as proper quince apples…
      Actually I think my quince apple is going to produce fruits this year but all on new growth, I’m not sure it’s appropriate to leave the fruits on a just planted tree on. I’ll decide later.

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