There is Art in Every Orchard

Trellised orchard, Ragged Hill Orchard, West Brookfield, Massachusetts, opening Labor Day Weekend. (Russell Steven Powell)

THERE IS SO MUCH MORE to a New England orchard than fresh, nutritious fruit.

Apples are living history, after all, direct descendants of the original trees on which they were discovered. A walk through the orchard is a walk through time.

Orchards are also works of art: living sculptures, continually evolving collaborations between people and nature. A trip to the orchard is like visiting a museum where you get to eat, not just admire, the art!

The orchard suggests order within chaos. Growers sculpt nature’s bounty in grid-like patterns for ease of access and care, yet their straight lines are mediated by the shaggy trees. 

Apple trees can take unusual shapes, like this one loaded with apples on the campus of the WoodenBoat School, Brooklin, Maine. (Noel Kurtz)

The twisted, gnarly apple trees, shaped by years of pruning, stand alone or are trained on trellises in endless poses. No two are the same.

In late summer and fall, the lush green foliage is studded with hundreds of pieces of bright fruit, adding color, detail, and texture, with a little fragrance mixed in. 

Even an old and hollow tree can still produce apples! Beach Plum Farm, Ogunquit, Maine. (Jonathan A. Wright)

Beginning in mid-autumn, the leaves gradually mimic the reds and golds of the apples and are finally shed, revealing the skeletal limbs within.

These gestural figures grace the landscape untouched until the grower reshapes the trees in winter, removing dead branches, encouraging new growth, and letting sunlight in.

New trees are planted and nonproductive ones removed before the pink-and-white blossoms of spring, and the cyclical art of the orchard begins again.

“Through the Eyes of the Beholder,” welded steel, Wade Clement, Westhampton, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell)
“CrissCross,” steel, David Skora, New Hartford, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)

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Park Hill Orchard in Easthampton, Massachusetts, takes the artistic relationship between people and nature one step further with its biennial sculpture exhibit, Art in the Orchard.

Visitors can meander around more than 30 sculptures made by artists from throughout the Northeast, ranging from the abstract to the whimsical to the classical, artfully arranged through the artful orchard.

Bring your appetite, and your camera.

“Ikumi,” stainless steel, John Bonsignore, Redding, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)

“FeatherBall,” brushed aluminum, up cycled bowling ball, stainless steel, Bob Turan, Earlton, New York. (Russell Steven Powell)
“Core,” painted turned wood, fabricated aluminum, Peter Dellert, Holyoke, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell)
“Tartan Trio.” Taking inspiration from her ancestral roots, Kellie Murphy of South Hadley, Massachusetts, writes, “these whimsical, yet stalwart, torus-shaped forms” made of Forton MG, resin, fiberglass, housepaint and weather sealer feature patterns loosely based on Gaelic tartans. (Russell Steven Powell)
“Play Ball,” steel and paint, Philip Marshall, Grafton, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell)
“Praying Mantis Tetherball Game,” copper, foam, cement, mosaic glass head and wings, Kimberly MacDonald, Portland, Maine. (Russell Steven Powell)
“A New England Diana,” welded recycled steel, Brian McQuillan, Hampden, Massachusetts, “a revolutionary version of a classic goddess.” (Russell Steven Powell)
“Macedonian,” welded steel fabricated with torch, hammer, and arc welder, John Riedeman, Norfolk, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)
“Iris Wooed by Zephyrus” depicts the Goddess of the Rainbow in a “flirtatious dance” with the God of the West Wind. Aqua-Resin, yacht paint, steel, resin, aluminum and stainless steel wire, Beckie Kravetz, Cummington, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell)

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MORE AND MORE APPLES are ripening by the day in New England’s orchards, and those orchards not already open for the season will open soon. Now is the ideal time to see the trees at their artistic, horticultural, and nourishing peaks!

Visit our Orchard Finder to see who is growing what, and call ahead for details.

Zestar! is ready at orchards like Cold Spring Orchard, University of Massachusetts, Belchertown, Massachusetts, starting this week. (Russell Steven Powell)

Click on the apple’s name to learn about its characteristics and see who grows them!