Saturday, March 5, 2011

Prunus Mume - Japanese Apricot - Lin Frye

9" x 12"
Arches 140# CP

The morning breaks with fog and grey, and much needed rain is in the forecast. Here in Oxford, my forsythia are 'just' about to open -- but two hours south of me, the Japanese apricots that provide the fruit of a luscious jam -- are in bright, full bloom.

The smallish, delicate trees are originally from China, and their wonderful white to pink flowers open before the leaves appear. We typically see their flowers in February and Marsh and their fruit in April. To me, they taste just like the large, commerical apricots we see in grocery stores -- EXCEPT these are not as mealy tasting and much jucier --- though less than half the size of traditional apricot fruits.

Folks use these apricots in so many ways - from jams and jellies, to liquors, juices, picked and more.

According to Wikipedia: "The Chinese see its blossoms as both as a symbol of winter as well as a harbinger of spring. It is precisely for this reason that the blossoms are so beloved, as they bloom most vibrantly amidst the winter snow, after most other plants have shed their leaves, and before other flowers appear. They are seen as an example of resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity, and more recently have also been used as a metaphor to symbolize revolutionary struggle since the turn of the 20th Century."

I have two of these beauties on my property. One year, I collected over 50 seedlings from campus and planted them here in Oxford. It must have been an unusually harsh winter that year because the deer ate all but ONE of those seedlings. I've protected the single tree that has survived and it is now almost 5 feet tall. I probably won't see any fruit from my trees for another couple of years - so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that our cold nights (cold enough to freeze the kitties water bowl) will spare the fruits on campus.

Hope your weekend is restful!

Lin Frye
North Carolina


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