“A WORD OF CAUTION to those entering an apple orchard for the first time: the experience can be overwhelming. Apples are seductive; anyone who has ever spent time where apples are grown knows why they symbolize temptation in the story of Adam and Eve. Apples are irresistible, appealing to all the senses.
“Entering the orchard is like walking into a well-proportioned painting, with the view broken into three roughly equal horizontal bands. Beneath your feet are the mixed greens of grasses carpeting the orchard floor; above is blue sky. The middle is dominated by the deep, dense greens of the trees, and from this leafy sea bursts thousands of pieces of round and oblong fruit in hues ranging from burgundy to gold to lime. … Many orchards are planted high on hillsides; when you look up from picking you take in a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. …
“ … If the orchard experience were strictly visual, its grandeur alone would captivate. But these orderly rows of apple trees work on all the senses. The orchard is a quiet place. Noise is muffled within the confines of grass and trees, distant from traffic. The main sound is the trilling and chirping of songbirds. The orchard invites contemplation.
“The fragrance is intoxicating. While some apple varieties are more aromatic than others, the collective scent transmitted by thousands of pieces of hanging fruit, mixed with soil and fresh air, is an olfactory rush.
“The best is yet to come: the tactile pleasure as your hand reaches around a ripe apple and twists it gently off the tree. When you sink your teeth into the apple with a loud, satisfying
crunch, it is as if all the orchard’s sensory pleasures are distilled in that single bite: the soft crunch, the heady aroma, the explosion of flavors, the rush of juice, the intense, brilliant colors of the outer skin contrasting with the creamy white, yellow, or lime-green flesh.”
— from America’s Apple
HERE IS A FEAST of apples and New England’s orchards. For a taste of the real thing, take the pleasure of visiting an orchard. The farm stands are open, pick-your-own season is in full swing, and the trees are bursting with beautiful, delicious apples, ready to be picked and eaten.
Visit the Orchard Finder on the New England Apple Association website to find an orchard near you, and call ahead to find out what’s available for picking.
If you have never been to an orchard, watch this short video program on Visiting a New England pick-your-own apple orchard.
THE LOOK of the orchard is in transition in many places, such as Dowse Orchards in Sherborn, Massachusetts, where dwarf and semi-dwarf trees are becoming as common as standard-sized ones.
The smaller trees are easier to pick and maintain, and they can be planted more closely together, increasing yields per acre. This is especially valuable for orchards in urban and suburban settings, where land to expand is hard to find.
WHILE SMALLER, densely planted trees are the wave of the future, there is no mistaking the elegance of the standard-sized ones, like these two, from The Big Apple in Wrentham, and Foppema’s Farm in Northbridge, both in Massachusetts:
AND NOW the grand finale: a few shameless beauty shots of our favorite fruit, with a Honeycrisp crescendo: