Years ago, a member of our team was gifted a sensational specimen tree to fill a bare space in their garden. It was a thoughtful and timeless gift that left their home—and by extension their life as a whole— slightly more beautiful. We recognize that not everyone has the space to warrant gifting a tree but if you know someone who does, trees are surprisingly intimate gifts that can have a tremendous impact on the day-to-day lives of the recipient. And even if your loved one is short on exterior space, we've included some tips on how you can still integrate trees into your holiday gift-giving!
When it comes to gifting trees, our first stop will always be Trees of Antiquity. Run by Annabelle, Danielle and Neil Collins, "Trees of Antiquity has been growing and shipping organic fruit trees across the country for over 40 years from [their] heirloom fruit tree nursery" in Paso Robles, CA. Offering a magnificent collection with hundreds of tree varieties, Trees of Antiquity shares not only beautiful and fruitful plants but also a connection to food and history that is often overlooked in the age of industrialized agriculture.
As Trees of Antiquity notes, commercial growers tailor their fruit to meet the needs of consumers who increasingly demand visually homogeneous fruit.
This demand eliminates our cherished trees’ unique qualities like the Ashmeads Kernel’s shy bearing nature and russeted skin, or the diminutive, but uniquely sweet and pronounced tang of the Wickson apple. (1)
When you are able to engage with fruit in its natural element, picking the produce for yourself, you quickly discover that the imperfections of each apple or quince are irrelevant. Beyond appreciating the uniqueness of each fruit, there is a seasonal ritual associated with fruit trees that further ties us to nature. One has to care for the tree, wait patiently for fruit to develop and ripen, before ultimately taking a bite of succulent fruit. It's a gentle pull away from our digital lives, back into the fresh air of nature, and we absolutely cherish it!
It’s a unique experience to bite into a fruit that explodes with a complexity of sweetness chased with a dash of tartness. What a delight to realize, after savoring this discovery, that this is one of thousands of flavors waiting to be rediscovered. We offer a small peek into a vast world of treasured sweets long forgotten, but still on the map. We provide the directions to rediscovering what is truly at the heart of us all: our food. (1)
As me mentioned earlier, Trees of Antiquity offer hundreds of trees, making the task of selecting the right plant daunting. Fortunately, they've put together a collection of 'thoughts to consider when selecting a fruit tree' that can guide you in the right direction. Spacing, chill factor, pollination, and harvesting time are just a few factors that will help you filter through their extensive nursery and select the ideal plant for anyone on your list!
And Trees of Antiquity even share tips on how to incorporate fruit trees into small spaces! Whether you decide to espalier your plant and train it to a fence, wall, or trellis, apply the summer pruning methods of bonsai to control the size, or create a compact orchard with high-density planting, you can find ways to share the majesty of trees even with those on your list who have limited space.
Think about how exciting it is to go apple picking in the autumn, to eat a peach warmed by the sun, or to walk past a vine drenched in fragrant concord grapes. By sharing a tree you are gifting that joyful experience along with a stunning piece of natural sculpture that will share shade, blossoms, and endless memories. We can't imagine a more momentous gift!