The Tree of 40 Fruit is an ongoing series of hybridized fruit trees by contemporary artist Sam Van Aken. Each unique Tree of 40 Fruit grows over forty different types of stone fruit including peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, cherries, and almonds. Sculpted through the process of grafting, the Tree of 40 Fruit blossom in variegated tones of pink, crimson and white in spring, and in summer bear a multitude of fruit. Primarily composed of native and antique varieties the Tree of 40 Fruit are a form of conversation, preserving heirloom stone fruit varieties that are not commercially produced or available.
Today the Department of Teeny-tiny Treasures is marveling at this exquisitely detailed miniature food handmade by French artist Stephanie Kilgast, aka PetitPlat. Kilgast uses polymer clay to sculpt 1:12 scale dollhouse miniatures of so many different kinds of fruit, vegetables, bread, and sweets that we wish we could shrink ourselves and play with them inside actual dollhouses.
For 2015 Kilgast decided to challenge herself to sculpt a one miniature fruit, vegetable, or root each day. You can follow her progress here on Tumblr at dailyminiveggie.
Visit the PetitPlat website or Instagram feed for many more photos of Stephanie Kilgasts incredibly wee creations. She also shares tutorials and behind-the-scenes photos like this:
A plant is considered to be ‘inosculate’
if it is self-grafting; if the branch of one individual will, as the result
of gentle abrasion, form a living bond with the branch of another individual,
or with another branch of the same plant. When this grafting is aided or
initiated by humans, the process is called 'pleaching.’
In mediaeval Europe, in areas where annual flooding endangered
human settlements, the pleaching of inosculate trees was employed as a solution
to what otherwise might have been an insoluble problem. The trees were planted
on a grid, like a small orchard. As they grew, branches were pruned and
trained along this grid, so that eventually the branch of one tree met that
of its neighbour. At that point, an incision was made in the bark of both
branches and they were tied together, like blood brothers or sisters. The
analogy is deserved, in that not only did these branches grow together to
form one member, but their support activities (condition of water/minerals
and sap) merged, thereby joining the life processes of the neighbouring
Training trees to grow in a compact form, such as a columnar or cordon tree, is a way to pack a huge amount of species diversity into a small space. These forms of tree maintenance are suitable for species and cultivars that fruit on what are called “spurs.”
Spurs are short, stocky shoots with shortened internodes, which is the space between two nodes; nodes are the part of a stem where leaves, and sometimes flowers, are attached. They form on shoots that are two years of age or older and can be branched or unbranched. Both flowers and fruit can form on spurs.
This form of maintenance is best for certain cultivars of apples and pears, so research and observation is needed before choosing the right trees. Some cultivars can even be persuaded to fruit in pots when pruned properly, so a mini-orchard is even possible for an apartment gardener with a balcony.
In any case, when done right, it is a dense, attractive, and productive mode of cultivation. Species and cultivars can be chosen to cascade across a wide range of flowering and ripening times: an early-ripening ‘Clapp’s Favourite’ Pear, can be planted alongside a mid-season 'Brandy,’ and a late-season 'Bosc,’ so that pears are available over a period of months, instead of a period of weeks.
I use this high-diversity strategy with my blueberries and strawberries as well, so I have three months of harvest from the former, and five of the latter. It entails a bit of work in keeping plants artificially small, but the consistent, small harvests are much more practical than one-time, large harvests. I don’t worry about canning and preserving, so much as going out in the garden and finding something ripe for the picking.
Everyone carves jack-o’-lanterns using pumpkins, so maybe it’s time to try something different, like carving pineapples! In addition to creating an entirely new sort of spooky decoration, instead of slinging slimy pumpkin innards into a paper bag you can feast on sweet pineapple flesh instead.
And why stop at pineapple? There are all sorts of melons that would make great jack-o’-lanterns too:
Head over to Bored Panda to check out even more pineapple jack-o’-lanterns.
My mom has a row of espaliered apples against
her fence, and I think there are 13 different cultivars in it. Each tree
is cut to just a ‘Y’ shape to make a criss-cross living fence. They
just started bearing last year.
It is a lot of work, especially to get started and set the shape, but it sure does get a lot of variety in a very small space.
This is a prime example to show you don’t actually need a lot of space to grow fruit trees, if you learn how to prune and maintain them.
This design is usually called a Belgian Fence, and you can find many tutorials for it on the web, and books on the subject.
I saw a beautiful show garden from the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show where the fences were completely decked in lemons and pomegranates that were trained to grow this way. It was called the Edible Persian Carpet Garden. After a few years, the result is truly edenic.