Since this is the year of the census, why restrict the counting just to people? NAFEX member Ruth Edmondson answered her own question by planning a “Back to our Roots” census adventure for Sunday, May 20. Volunteers will make a block-by-block count of flowering fruit trees in the Anchorage Original Townsite and Elderberry Triangle as part of Arbor Day festivities.
Fruit trees, particularly apple trees, have a lengthy history in Anchorage, according to Ruth. One tree planted along Third Ave. decades ago was rescued from a construction site by the Walter Hickel family and now continues a productive life at their Turnagain residence. Bob Reeve, the famous bush pilot and aviation entrepreneur, planted some apple trees along Sixth Avenue in front of his office. The Anchorage 5th Avenue Mall construction was built with their well-being in mind, and they are now a part of the development’s landscaping. There are also reports that a sweet cherry tree is producing prolifically in the vicinity of Seventh and E streets.
The practical-minded Alaska NAFEX officer-at large lauds cold climate fruits as great landscaping plants and a bountiful hobby. According to Ruth, there are more cold-climate varieties than most Alaskans know about. “And one big advantage we enjoy is that we are north of the range for common enemies of fruit trees. Our biggest hazards are small boys and large moose!”
Fruit census volunteers will meet at 2 p m. in the third floor Community Room of the Anchorage 5th Avenue Mall on Sunday, May 20 for orientation. The census project is a joint endeavor of NAFEX and local master gardeners. Anyone who wishes to enjoy the sight of flowering fruit trees is welcome to participate in this event of a city-wide Arbor Day. Call Ruth at 248-5353 after 6 p.m. for more information or to share your knowledge of our heritage fruit trees.
An inventory of proven cold climate trees could help NAFEX members determine best combinations of scionwood and rootstocks. Additionally, cooperative tree owners could offer their trees for gathering scionwood for next spring’s grafting workshop.