alan skeoch
May 19, 2023

My grandfather, Edward Freeman, was a landscape  gardener born in Herefordshire, England.  Trained on the grounds of Windsor Castle according
to one source although he never told me that  Eventually he became the head gardener at the 1500 acre Eywood Estate near Kington, Herefordshire..
That’s apple country where the great cider apple called Red Streak once thrived and perhaps descendants are in blossom there to this day.  There’s
nothing quite like a cold glass of Bulmer’s cider on a hot day.   Although granddad preferred Rhubarb wine himself.  Made from his own
rhubarb patch that tried alongside the apple orchard.

Granddad left England as the 20th century dawned.  Perhaps tricked by Canadian advertising brochures that promised free land and freedom
from the class system.  Tricked is the word because Krugerdorf in the cold clay belt of Northern Ontario was anything but Valhalla.  A rough and ready 
place where forest fires swept across the boreal forest and piles of immigrant cut slash with the regularity of the rising of the sun,   Edward, Louisa and the
kids,, Frank and Elsie (my mom) were burned out. Lost much. Saved the old pump organ and some pictures. Fled south to a derelict 25 acre farm
in Erin Township, Wellington County, Ontario. And stayed there unto death.  We still have that farm although grander farms have disappeared all
across North America.

The best crop on that farm is rocks.  Always has been since an ice sheet two kilometres thick dumped a monstrous pile of unsorted rubble there ten
thousand or so years ago.   But it was here that the Freeman’s took up permanent residence.

And here is where the last vestige of Granddad’s gardening skills still lives.   One lone apple tree where once his orchard stood.  What kind? I have
no idea except my dad said the apples were Red Astrachans.  Unsure of that because dad accused every apple tree as being a Red Astrashan.
Perhaps he liked the name as much as I like he name Red Streak (see Herefordshire Pomona).  Decades ago I was so enamoured of that
cider apple that we purchased a page from the old Herefordshire Pomona that was framed and hanging in a ‘book breakers’ shop in Hay of Wye.
The picture hangs in our living room and visitors must wonder why we have an apple hanging there.

So that is a bit of apple history.  A tiny bit for the study of apples fills volumes .   I have not time to go into that
in depth today.   Today you have a chance to gaze at Granddad’s last apple tree.   It is not a pretty picture.  Apple trees age as humans
do…as most living things do….as burning balls called suns do.  Apple trees show their age and once they get to look crochetty they are cut down
and their wood in blocks provided a last bit of joy in the fireplace from of winter time combustion.  Will that be the final resting
place of granddad’s apple tree?

Maybe.  But not this year.  This year it is in full blossom. Few blossoms last year.  But this year, 2023, a glorious bunch of blossoms
on the few live branches.  Hopefully our son Andrew’s bees have found those blossoms and will provide a jar of honey when
Andrew steasl some honey from the bees next fall.

I think I will call that honey “Red Astrachan RedStreak”, granddad would like that.


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