Burnett: Old-style orchard ambience lost

Old apple trees blossoming on Tom Hazell’s land.  - Contributed
Old apple trees blossoming on Tom Hazell’s land.
— image credit: Contributed

A year ago in May, I dropped in to see my old friend Tom Hazell and sat with him in his living room reminiscing about the old days.

Much of the conversation centred around my dad, who Tom remembered plowing his garden every year when he lived on Ethel Street.

So I was saddened to hear of his recent passing.

While I was at his property last year, I took some pictures of his very old apple trees which were in full bloom at the time.

Talk about big old trees! Very seldom now do you see the old standard-sized apple trees as they have been replaced by semi-dwarf, dwarf and super-dwarf versions.

We spoke of how an orchard felt and looked different in the old days.

Walking through the shade of the large canopy offered a reprieve from the hot Okanagan summer sun; the moist ground generally planted with fall rye or other cover crop produced accompanying humidity.

In the fall, the aroma of ripening fruit embedded itself in the mind forever.

I noticed the other day as I was passing by Tom’s home that the apple trees have been removed, so I was happy to have captured the last time they bloomed on camera.

I wasn’t able to get to Tom’s service last Saturday morning, but I did help give another old friend a send-off and a toast with his favourite beer.

Ray Bostock, who with the help of his wife Anne, wrote several articles on his childhood and early adult years, also passed away this month.

Ray was a true Kelowna native who carried with him a vast knowledge of Kelowna history. I will miss him terribly.

He always had a supply of smoked trout or salmon to give to friends, and when he couldn’t catch the fish himself, he would simply buy some at the store and say he caught it at Save-On-Lake or sometimes Lake Cooper.


This weather we are experiencing now may not be welcoming for our tourists this summer, but for our plants, flowers, trees and shrubs it is a great reprieve from what we usually get at this time of year.

It is also great for reducing the forest fire threat.

However, it’s also not good for fruit crops such as cherries which the rain can cause to split.

Some of the new cherry varieties are less susceptible to splitting, but the worst one is Bing.

A good alternative to Bing is a variety called Lapins.

If you have an existing old variety cherry, or for that matter any fruit tree, and wish to experience some of the newer varieties, it is quite easy to bud graft them into your existing tree.

This procedure is done in August. My buddy Rico Thorsen is probably one of the most experienced and knowledgeable grafters in the Okanagan.

He does custom grafting and budding for homeowners and commercial orchardists. Give him a call 250-769-7681 if you require those services.


My tip of the week last week on the radio show was to pay close attention to your hanging baskets at this time of year. Without regular watering, fertilizing and cleaning they deteriorate quickly and have trouble bouncing back.

Tune in to The Don Burnett Garden Show on AM 1150 Saturday mornings from 8 to 10 a.m.


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