My fruit tree plans - and quinces in Colorado?

ianb_co(5b)January 25, 2008

Hello all -

Thanks for the warm welcome I've been given so far. In anticipation of my 2012 fruit deliveries, I've started placing orders with some nurseries for trees for my back yard. I'll probably post this as well on the fruit and orchard forum, but I'd greatly value any experience gleaned by the RM growers.

Background: we're on the northeast side of Boulder, on the flats. According to the soil map, and what little prospecting I've done, our soil is clay loam over sandy clay loam. There is a stream about 200 yards away (perhaps 10-12' below our yard grade), so I'd suspect the water table is relatively high here. The yard currently contains several healthy crabapples, a healthy willow (that will come out due to it being too close to the house) and several dying aspens (they don't like the low altitude).

I'm planning on planting the following trees, three to a hole at 10 to 15 foot intervals, along a south-facing 6' tall fence. I hope to keep them under 10' tall by summer pruning.

Pears (all on OHxF333, from Trees of Antiquity)




Plums #1 (on St Julien; from One Green World)

Imperial Epineuse


Shropshire Damson

Plums #2 (on Myrobalan; from Cummins)



Geneva Mirabelle

I've selected them for late blooming, good for cooking and fresh eating, and relative resistance to fire blight. Also, the Oullins gets mixed reviews on the flavor, but I'll likely keep it as a pollinizer for the green gage and as understock for trying to graft a couple of other gages.

Any thoughts? Have I gotten any mouths watering?

On a related note, I've given a little thought to putting two fruiting quinces in another corner. They're allegedly hardy to Zone 5; some research I saw at Cornell says they survive to -25F, though blossoms may be winter killed at -15, but it only gets down that far once a decade or so here. Anyone growing quinces in the RM area?

Thanks for your thoughts!


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david52 Zone 6

You forgot Blue Damson plum, which makes the bestest-ever jelly.

I've got several bush (non-grafted) plums that a neighbor dug up and brought along last fall, and they're potted up in the greenhouse now. Some are greengage, and some are blue damson, but I dunno which is which.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 4:43PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Ian,

I can't help you with advice on the trees..........

.............but I've got Harvest Season, 2012 marked on my calendar!


    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 4:54PM
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Thanks David - I'm hoping the Shropshire Damson makes as good preserves as advertised, otherwise I may sneak into the backyard of my my old rental and dig up a blue damson or two - I made a half-dozen jars of awesome preserves in September, the last of which is in the fridge now. And Sky, you'll be welcome to share in the harvest, especially if you help me dig the holes in my frozen back yard!


    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 9:16PM
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stevation(z5a Utah)


I know I've seen some old flowering quinces around here, at 4500' in what used to be a zone 5 but is now solidly zone 6. I don't know if the fruiting quince is very different, but I'll bet it would be fine.

So, only plums and pears, huh? Peaches are awesome in this climate! Nectarines, too. And cherries -- you can't beat the cherries around here! I love my apple trees, too. I have been meaning to get a pear tree someday, too.

The only fruit I see around here that often doesn't do well is apricots. People who really love them take their chances with them, but they usually flower too early here and get frozen buds.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 12:50AM
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Steve - plums and pears (and maybe quinces) now, then apples, then who knows? Cherries - now that's an idea. I may need a little more back yard...


btw, that's a beautiful yard you have going!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 9:38AM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Ian, if you're bringing your pears and plums in 2012, I'll bring my apples from the trees I'm planting this year, LOL! I'd love to have cherries too, but DH says they are too messy. Wait until he see's the mess on the patio from the grapes vines I'm going to plant when be builds the pergolla for me, LOL!!! He already teases me for trying to turn our little subdivision lot into a farm. I'm afraid I've only just begun ; )


    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 2:04PM
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Good luck with the grapes - I know that around here, the raccoons are experts at eating every last grape the night before you planned to harvest them!


    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 7:35PM
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stevation(z5a Utah)


I don't find cherries to be messy AT ALL! My trees are bit young, but there's a cherry orchard behind my house, and it doesn't seem to get messy, either. I get more mess from the apples that fall off my Jonathan tree before I'm ready to pick them, but the cherries seem quite obedient in staying on the tree until I want them.

I think cherries are like tomatoes. Once you've grown your own, it's very hard to accept the unripe, overly firm, not-very-juicy ones from the store! I also love that they've become a Fourth of July ritual for us -- we always have a feast on cherries with our BBQ for the holiday.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2008 at 12:48PM
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I live in Gunbarrel (not far from Ian). My pear (Cleveland) and peach trees get clobbered by the late spring or early fall snowstorms. (Are all pear trees as brittle?) Like other posters, I get peaches every 3 or 4 years. The Montmorency cherry tree is doing very well, but the birds get all the cherries. A mixed apple tree (4 or 5 varieties grafted onto it - kind of a Frankenstein ;) ) is doing well, not quite producing fruit at 4 yrs. Two plums (Queen Anne and something else) are healthy and producing good fruit, which occasionally I steal from the squirrels. Overall, Colorado weather is kicking my butt.

About to put maybe 6 fruit trees in a large 15 x 18 ft raised bed. What to plant...? Would love a blast of spring color in a not totally irregularly shaped tree.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 7:44PM
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For my part, the apples, pears and plums are all doing well - the apples, except for the Northern Spy, have leafed out, the pears have pushed 3-4" new growth, and the plums are finishing up blossoming. I may well get a good crop of damsons and handful of golden transparents this year.

The quince died back to about 6" from the ground - the second year in a row with significant damage - and I'll probably try to find a new home for it in the fall, to be replaced with at North Star cherry. No die back at all on the apples and pears, and only a few inches on a couple of the leggiest verticals of the green gage plum.

The fruit tree list at the moment:
Apples: Ashmead's Kernel, Calville Blanc, Cortland, Cox's Orange Pippin, Jonagold, Kidds Orange Red, Margil, Northern Spy, Reinette Zabergau

Pears: Comice, Magness, Seckel, Warren

Plums: Geneva Mirabelle, Golden Transparent, Green Gage, Imperial Epineuse, Shropshire Damson

Smyrna Quince

All the pears and most of the apples are in an espalier, and the plums are planted 5' apart and pruned as goblets or bushes, depending on their branching angles.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 11:37PM
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Lesuko(5, Boulder CO)

Hi Ian-

I know this is an old post but I noticed you mentioned backyard orchards in another post that I can't find now. We are going to plant fruit trees in our south boulder yard and had researched the backyard culture idea but was talked out of it by a tree farmer. The main reason being that dwarf trees are on weaker wood and can't withstand CO weather well.

Since it's been a few years since you've planted 3 trees per hole, I was wondering how that's going. How much you're pruning, and whether you've encountered any problems.

We were thinking of:
1 plum
2 peaches (reliance, redhaven or elberta)
2 pear (seckle plus 1)
1 apple
1 northstar

However, the plum tree I want needs a pollinator and so I was wondering how yours are doing and whether I should try putting 2-3 in 1 hole. We are worried about the diameter of each tree as we're limited to space. We want to keep each tree within 12-14' diameter.

Any update on your orchard would be greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2011 at 3:26PM
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