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Apples & Peaches

Our forlorn apple tree still stands despite my constant plans for removing it. Since the trunk of it is the size of a small house, taking it out is something to think about. And heaven forbid hiring someone to trample over my plants. So it remains. Every year, in the dead of winter, I cut it back although several of the limbs are difficult to reach and some always remain. This year, I cut more than I usually do and only two or three large branches still stood, reaching straight up into the sky.  Judging from the apples this year, maybe I'm doing something right - However, it is hard to find a good apple unless it is picked from the tree (hard to reach). The ones on the ground always have bad spots on them. We've never treated the tree for disease or insects and the thought of doing that doesn't appeal to me.  I usually make at least one pie or cake every year from the unblemished apples I am able to retrieve.  My go-to apple recipe is the French Apple Tart f rom Ina Garten.


The Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) is an unusual shrub with curious white pincushion flowers. It is found in the wild all over the United States, usually in swamps and moist areas.  Growing up in rural Alabama, I remember seeing it in the woods behind our house. It doesn't garner much attention until the blooms make their appearance. 

Sources vary on the size of the plant. In the wild, it can get to 20 feet but in gardens, most likely under 12 ft. In my garden, it is about 4 feet tall after five years in the ground. It is located along the back fence in an area that doesn't get much supplemental water although I am working on the area and watering more often this year.

The flowers have a slight honey-like fragrance. Bees love this plant!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Anything that the bees like is a winner in my book, although if it likes moist soil it won't find a home in my garden.

  2. Interesting. It does have a quiet elegance to it.

    In California the common name is Buttonwillow and there's an unincorporated town along I-5 in the central valley so named--the buttonwillows all gone from the area, which is intensively farmed--cotton and other such crops.


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