While most of us are out in the blistering heat pushing our lawn mowers, Scott is tending his backyard orchard of fruit trees. He only has 10 square feet of grass to keep trimmed. He has transformed the rest of his lot into a wonderful suburban orchard, with figs, bananas, persimmons, feijoas, grapes, passion fruit, and citrus of all kinds.
I first met Scott last year at John Panzarella's annual citrus tasting, where he impressed me with his enthusiasm for citrus trees, and seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of different varieties. I was also very impressed to hear that he was growing all these citrus trees in The Woodlands, where the potential for terrible freezes and even more terrible home owner's associations might give others pause. I finally got the chance to go visit last week while Dr. Wife and the boys were out of town.
Scott's orchard began just a few years ago. First he got rid of all the grass, buried corrugated drain tubes and irrigation lines, and then laid down several inches of cedar mulch. All of his trees are planted in nice raised rows separated by swales for drainage, and irrigated by circular drip emitters. The plantings are very nicely arranged, and full of tangelos, kumquats, calamondins, oranges, grapefruit, pummelos, and more. It doesn't take too much imagination to visualize what it will be like in just a few years. When all his trees reach maturity, he'll hardly be able to walk back there. I don't know the exact number, but I bet he has around 100 trees planted in the ground.
During my visit, I was struck by two things: First, Scott never refers to his lot as his "yard". He always refers to it as his "orchard". Damn right. We're not talking about a few trees planted out in the lawn, his is a well thought out and well executed suburban orchard design. If Dr. Wife would let me, I would do the exact same thing (and I still might, depending on whether or not she reads this). Second, all of his trees looked really good in spite of receiving NO COLD PROTECTION! That's quite an accomplishment considering that the last two years have brought the harshest winters since the 1980's.
Scott's a true fruit explorer, pushing the northern limits of growing citrus. I really look forward to watching his orchard mature over the next few years.