Thursday, June 19, 2014

June 18th Meeting: Derry Walsh on Fruit Trees and Mason Bees

Last night's meeting saw Derry field an array of questions on both topics. For those who missed her presentation, her website at has lots of information, including how to contact her if you have further questions or want to buy an apple tree of your own.
Highlights of her talk included:

  • Most Vancouver nurseries selling apple trees are selling plants left over from orchards in the Okanagan. These are not good varieties for our coastal conditions.  Two that are good choices for Vancouver are the Dutch varieties 'Belle de Boskoop' and 'Goudrenet'.
  • It's not a good idea to buy a plant grafted with several different varieties of apple. Within a few years all but the strongest variety will have died or become weak and unproductive.
  • In a small space, espaliers or cordons are good methods of training trees on dwarf rootstock.
  • Apple trees need one or sometimes two other trees that bloom at the same time as pollenizers. These don't have to be in your own yard, but can be anywhere within a block of you. Crabapples are excellent pollenizers. For an ornamental one with no fruit, Derry recommends 'Snowdrift'. For good fruit, she prefers 'Dolgo'. Bees prefer white-flowered varieties over all others.
  • Mason bees prefer wooden bee boxes or Kraft paper straws in a container over the commercial plastic boxes.
  • Mason bees lay female cells at the back of the nesting tube, male offspring at the front (because the males are expendable if any damage occurs)
  • If you see the rear end of a bee when you look into a nesting tube, it's a male; if you see the face of the bee, it's a female.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Next Meeting, Wednesday, June 18th, 7:00, Astorino's!

Our speaker for our June meeting is Derry Walsh, who will speak to us on “Fruit Trees and Mason Bees.” Derry holds a B.Sc in Botany and Zoology from UBC and a Diploma in Adult Education, and is a Life Member of the Master Gardeners’ Association  of BC.

She took the MG program in 1984 when it was being run by the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. When VanDusen Botanical Garden took over the program in 1985, she became the program coordinator and ran it for the first five years (1986–1990).

In 1990, with her husband, Bill Chase, who was retiring from the UBC Dept of Medicine, she bought a farm in Aldergrove, five acres of pasture with a creek running through it. They planted 3/4 acre in fruit trees, mostly apple trees, and filled the rest of the land with llamas.
During the next twenty-four years, Derry learned a lot about fruit trees, met many fantastic people, and propagated some very old apple trees, including stock from Cougar Annie's garden north of Tofino, Derby Reach near Langley, and Glen Eagles Golf Course in West Van. She also brought back into circulation some apple varieties that were grown successfully by the pioneers in south coastal B.C. prior to 1950.

Derry is a riveting speaker, legendary for her vast knowledge of many aspects of gardening, particularly fruit trees suitable for growing in our climate. If you have ever considered growing your own fruit, you won’t want to miss her presentation. Bring your questions on this subject, or on beneficial insects, especially mason bees as pollinators, or on any related subject.

See you there!