The Quetzal and the Wild Avocado

The Quetzal and the Wild Avocado

Our guide through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve in the highlands of Costa Rica had just picked up a fallen orchid to show us when we heard a whistle. He put the orchid down and started walking briskly toward the whistle. We followed. He turned back to...
Don’t judge a tree by its first fruit

Don’t judge a tree by its first fruit

My Pixie mandarin tree is carrying its first fruit, which look pitiful. They’re small, warped. If I didn’t know better, I’d say Pixie mandarins are no good, and I’d replace it with a different mandarin. Luckily, I’ve had fruit off of mature Pixie trees....
Pruning avocado trees

Pruning avocado trees

I call this tree the Japanese Fuerte. I’d seen many pruned avocado trees, I’d pruned many avocado trees, and I’d read much about others’ pruning of avocado trees, but I’d never encountered an old tree that had been so consistently and artfully molded to a shape and...
Should you prune a bare-root fruit tree?

Should you prune a bare-root fruit tree?

Whether or not you should prune a bare-root fruit tree depends on two things: One, what the tree looks like when you buy it. And two, what you want the tree to look like when it’s all grown up. This being mid-January, heart of bare-root season in Southern...
Where should you buy a fruit tree?

Where should you buy a fruit tree?

“Sorry,” I said as I leaned in front of a guy to snap the above photo of the label on the bag of a bare-root Carpathian walnut tree at Home Depot. “Do you know what is different these?” asked the man, pointing also at the tree beside the Carpathian walnut,...
Fruit trees hiding at the San Diego Zoo

Fruit trees hiding at the San Diego Zoo

Last week, I took my boys to the San Diego Zoo and we headed toward a less crowded area where the giant Galapagos tortoises reside. As often happens, on our walk I pointed out the plants as much as the animals. “Cass, do you see this avocado tree over...
Growing avocados in Southern California

Growing avocados in Southern California

Avocados are California. They are our heritage fruit. My great great grandfather grew a huge seedling avocado tree at his house near Los Angeles. When my mother was a child, she climbed in her neighbor’s Fuerte avocado tree. I have planted avocado trees over the...