|The truck carrying our trees stopped at Wallacetown, where I took this photo.|
My arms are aching and I have blisters on my hand that're going to trouble me for days – I've been digging, and that's not something I willingly choose to do, being a “no dig” kind of gardener and one who encourages others to take a gentle approach to their gardening activities, but today, I dug. The reason for the spade-work? My wife. She determined, quite rightly, that the heritage apple trees we'd grafted and planted 6 years ago, should be dug up and moved to their permanent locations, back to the communities they came from, all fresh and vigorous, on new root stock and ready to take their place in one of the orchard parks that Southland will soon be famous for. Tuatapere is the location for the trees we dug today, and next week it will be Monowai Village, where the townsfolk are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their trees. I'm hoping for a brass band and banners saying, “Welcome Home, Heritage Apple Trees From Our Past”, but I'll settle for a hot cup of tea and a scone. The Open Orchard project has made all this happen and I'm one of their people. I've collected scions from the grandfather apple trees growing on farms and in backyards across the region, I've grafted those skinny slivers of history onto robust apple root-stock and I've planted them out in good Southland soil to grow on to the point we reached today, the Great Home-Coming, where the revived trees return to their roots to grow on for another 80, 90 or 100 years till some other keen apple fanciers decide they must save the wonderful fruits from extinction. It's a great project, a wonderful concept and goodnesss, do my hands sting!