Favorite Tree Friday: The Lemon Tree

The theme of this week’s blog is: What’s Your Favorite Tree.

Self admittedly, I am not a tree geek – but I am learning.

Before coming to work at the Arbor Day Foundation, I knew nothing about the Honey Locust, a tree often found on the prairie that produced fruit like seeds that the pioneer children enjoyed in absence of candy during the territorial days of this great nation. I had also never heard of the Osage Orange – a strong durable tree that was the natural ancestor to the man-made barbed wire fence.

Growing up we had maple trees. I could tell you ALL about those trees. The great shade they provided while playing in the back yard during the heat of the Nebraska summer or the immense amount of leaves to play in during the fall. However, the Maple is not my favorite tree.

lemon tree

Flickr | Takver

My favorite tree is the Lemon Tree.

Growing up in Omaha, I had never seen a lemon tree. It wasn’t until after I graduated college and spent a very brief time in California did I not only see one, but had one in my yard.

Why a lemon tree you may ask? It’s a simple answer – “Lemon Tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet but the fruit of the poor lemon was impossible to eat.” Corny, huh? I loved a tree I had never seen based on a song that used to play on the eight track of my mother’s Oldsmobile Station Wagon.

Honestly, the first time I saw a Lemon Tree I have to say it lived up to the hype. The beauty and the fragrance that radiated – it was just amazing. I also say there and sang the song to the tree – again, a corny Shel Silverstein moment, but I was a child of the 70’s so it all just seemed like a natural thing to do.

There are practical examples of my love for the tree and the fruit it produces:

  1. Lemons can be used to clean and deodorize
  2. Great for aromatherapy
  3. Nice for a twist in a cocktail

Writing this post in October seems fitting as I have read that Lemon Trees were brought to the Americas on the Hispaniola by Christopher Columbus. Regardless of who is responsible for my favorite tree here in the US, I encourage each of you to pick up a lemon today, oh and a cover or Trini Lopez singing the Lemon Tree song.


Lodi Apple: The Apple to Your Sauce

(Malus x domestica)

lodiThe lodi apple —a hybrid of the yellow transparent and montomgery apple —is a popular choice used in baking pies and making applesauce for their ability to cook down quickly. These yellowish-green apples have a soft, white flesh and sweet-tart taste.

Here are a few things to note if you’re considering adding one to your yard.

Environmental Factors

  • The Lodi grows well in moist, well-drained soil. It is not drought tolerant (hardiness zones 3-8).
  • This is a medium growing tree, growing up to two feet a year and reaching 20-25’ at maturity. Check out our fruit spacing guideto ensure it has plenty of space to flourish.
  • Prefers full sun, preferably 6-8 hours of direct sunlight every day.

Physical Attributes

  • Blooms white/pink flowers early in the season, yields fruit July-August.
  • Available in standard, semi-dwarf and dwarf sizes. Standard size bears fruit in 6-10 years. Will need a second tree to cross-pollinate to produce apples. Can pollinate with a variety of apples including red Jonathan or early harvest.
  • Has a short shelf life, but freezes well.

Do you have an awesome apple recipe? We’d love to hear it!

Red Jonathan Apple

(Malus X Domestica)

Red-Jonathan-Apple_1-722This fruit may be a little less persistent at ripening than its counterpart the early harvest, but the red Jonathan is still packed with a succulent taste—tart and well-balanced. It’s a great apple for fresh eating, freezing and cooking. The red Jonathan ripens mid-September to mid-October.

Here are a few things to note if you’re considering adding one to your yard.

Environmental Factors

  • This tree grows well in moist, well-drained soil and is not drought tolerant (hardiness zones 4-8).
  • Medium growing tree, growing 1-2 feet a year and reaching 20-25 feet at maturity. Check out our Fruit Tree Spacing Guide
  • Needs a minimum of 6-8 hours of direct sun every day.

Physical Attributes

  • Blooms white/pink flowers midseason.
  • Available in standard, semi-dwarf, and dwarf sizes. Standard size bears fruit 6-10 years.
  • Will need a second tree to cross-pollinate to produce apples. Can be pollinated with yellow delicious, red delicious, early harvest, or a variety from a different apple family.
  • Bonus tip: These apples will keep for 3-6 months if stored in the refrigerator.

Have an awesome apple recipe? We’d love to hear it!

When Science Meets Art: The Tree of 40 Fruit

Tree Grafting is an old practice of inserting a section of a stem with leaf buds into the stock of another tree. It’s a way of bringing two varieties of fruits together in a single tree. It’s also used in repairing injured trees and produces more fruits on each tree. The sight of a grafted tree is quite the marvel.

Sam Van Aken is a professor at Syracuse University and an artist who has been grafting trees for years. Among his pieces is a single tree that produces more than 40 varieties of stone fruits including peaches, plums and nectarines— thus the name The Tree of 40 Fruit. Because of the varieties of fruits brought together, when the tree blossoms it does so in different hues of pink, crimson and white.

The end result will leave you in awe.

What do you think of tree grafting?

Peaches, cherries, and plums! Oh my!

Wouldn’t it be fun to pick fruit from your own trees at home? We have selected a variety of choices that are both delicious and add beauty to your landscape. Each selection grows in both a standard and dwarf sizes- suitable for many types of landscapes and gardens. Before planting, consult our fruit tree spacing guide to make sure you reap full benefits of your yummy fruit trees.

Golden-Jubilee-Peach_1-892The Golden jubilee peach tree begins to produce abundant yields of high-quality, tender and juicy fruit between ages 3-4. It survives colder climates better than other peaches and can be expected to grow in zones 5-8. This popular yellow freestone peach ripens around July, several weeks before Elberta peach trees. Scented pink blossoms appear in spring, adding a sweet bonus to your landscape.

Bing-Cherry_1-809America’s favorite cherry tree, bing cherry, produces sweet large fruit by the pound- as much as 50-100 lbs. per year. Excellent for fresh eating and preserves, the fruit ripens in mid-June to mid-summer. Its white spring blossoms also add beauty to your landscape in spring. Ideal for zone 5- 8.

Methley-Plum_1-907A cultivar of Japanese plum, Methley produces heavy, annual crops of sweet and juicy plums perfect for fresh eating or jelly. Sweetly fragrant white flowers bloom in early spring and fruit ripens in late May to mid-July. This tree is self-fertile and grows in zones 5-9.

Add flavor, color, and more beauty to your landscape by creating your home orchard. Be sure to read an earlier blog post for helpful steps before you begin planting! Visit the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Nursery to find more variety of fruit trees, perfect for your landscape. Get a discount on all of your trees when you become an Arbor Day Foundation member.

Adding Trees and Shrubs to your Garden

Gardening has been a hot topic around my house lately.  The past few summers my wife has been interested in creating a garden but the timing has never been right.  This summer she is determined to make it happen. 

We recently sold our house and purchased a new house, allowing her to fully commit to creating the garden.  She recently order vegetable seeds and is starting to make plans on the location of the raised planter bed in the new backyard.  I reminded her that in addition to the traditional vegetable garden crops that we could add some edible trees and shrubs.  The strong benefit of trees and shrubs besides providing a new source of “groceries” is that we only need to plant them once compared to some vegetables. 

There are many choices that we can make but was reminded by one of her magazines to plant what you will eat.  That narrows down our choices since we are both picky eaters. 

In the end we agreed that we are going to explore finding a space an apple tree

Any suggestions on other fruit trees or nut trees we should add?  We have limited space in our new backyard.

Space Needed for Backyard Orchard

Q:      How much space do I need for a backyard orchard?

Well, this depends on your purpose.  A single, self-pollinating peach tree may satisfy a peach lover.  Or you may be like Stuart Kennedy of Cincinnati who just planted 10 dwarf apple trees because his wife makes great pies and they want to watch their budget in these tough economic times.  Stuart has also added a 2,200 sq. ft. garden, a grape vine and a pear tree as the family tries to move toward growing its own food.

Read more…

Trees That Attract Honeybees

Q: What trees attract honeybees?

 This is a good question, especially in light of the struggle our industrious little friends are having just to exist in our ever-urbanizing world. 

Read more…

Adding Fruit Trees to your Landscape Design

As the Apple Orchard Manager at Arbor Day Farm, I often get questions about how to create a fruit orchard in a home or landscape setting.   There are several items that you should consider to make sure you find a tree that is right for you.

Buy Apple Tree

Determine the Right Fruit Tree for your landscape

Step 1: When choosing a fruit tree in your yard or home, the first consideration is the growing zone in which you live.

Read more…