Carolinas Chapter Orchard Tours Fall 2008

November 8, 2008

The orchard maintained by Don Myers and Susan Wilson on their property located above the Sandy Mush Valley was toured first. The second tour was of an orchard at Winterberry Farm, located on top of Newfound Mountain in Heywood County, that is maintained by the Stanbacks. Click on any photograph to enlarge it.

During the tours, members collected leaves, burrs and nuts from hybrid trees. The materials will be sent to Clemson University for biochemical analysis as part of a research project involving chestnut trees.

While touring the orchard, Dr. Patricia DeCoursey is the Director of the University of South Carolina’s Belser Arboretum, told of having met Dr. Arthur Graves, a scientist involved with early research into restoring the American chestnut tree. As a girl of 14, Patricia collected American chestnuts growing in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts and delivered them to Dr. Graves at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens of New York. Dr. Graves was very appreciative of the gift of nuts and told Patricia about the research work in which he was involved.

Members touring the orchard at Winterberry Farm were treated to freshly pressed apple cider made by Ilona Stanback.  She gathered apples from trees growing next to the chestnut orchard, ground them, pressed the juice from the mash, and served everyone a sample.

Those attending the tour also saw a birdhouse made by Doug Gillis, who gave it to Paul, who is retiring at the end of December, as a gift. The construction of the Bluebird house is based on a design developed by Jack Finch who established the non-profit company, Homes for Bluebirds, Inc., Bailey, North Carolina.

It was a beautiful day to tour Chapter orchards. The hills surrounding the Sandy Mush Valley were resplendent with fall colors. When looking out onto the hillsides in such beauty, one knows that some day in the future that mature chestnut trees will grow again in the eastern forests. The work of many researchers, scientists and volunteers whose goal it has been and continues to be to develop blight resistant, hybrid American chestnut trees will have come to life in the forests.