Sex in the Garden: Pollination for Apples and Comedy
Editor’s Note: After our Sex in the Garden posts, I received this great story from Blandon Ray in Eugene, Oregon. It was too funny to keep to myself, so I’m reposting it here (with the author’s permission, of course) as Plantgasm’s first guest post! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
A friend of mine has a house with a very small yard, and is doing quite a lot with what little space she has to work with. Full-size fruit trees are out of the question for her, but a year or so ago, she found a columnar apple tree at the local nursery. It’s a little stick-like tree that has almost no side branches, just a central trunk with leaves and flowers growing directly out of it (there are several varieties but hers, we think, is a North Pole). My wife and I have several larger fruit trees in our yard, including an apple, but we thought it was a sufficiently neat idea that she bought me a columnar tree for my birthday last year.
This spring, for the first time, both our trees were covered with blossoms, so we were excitedly hoping for fruit. But one day it occurred to me: all the other yards near our friend’s house are just as small, and there are almost certainly no apple trees anywhere nearby. At least some apple trees are self-incompatible, which means you need pollen from another tree of another variety – no other trees, no apples! Granted, I’ve only been tending my own tree for a couple of years now, and I’m no expert, but I wasn’t about to take the chance.
I’ve hand-pollinated indoor plants a few times with a little paintbrush, so I figured I could just do the same with the apple. When I did this with pepper plants on my desk, I was able to just dab some of the pollen off onto a (black) napkin, then dab it back onto the other plant. But the apple tree flowers are different, and this didn’t really work, so ultimately I just clipped off a small branch of flowers (a low-hanging one that was in an awkward place anyway) from my own tree, and drove over to my friend’s place with it in a little bud vase. A little hobby paintbrush is just right for collecting a little of the pollen off the anthers of my flowers, then gently depositing it on the stigma of hers. After a while I got into a nice little rhythm.
Naturally, due to the symbolism of this act, the jokes started almost immediately:
“Yes, I’d love it if you would come over and fuck my tree.”
Me: “Honey, I’m going over to another woman’s house to perform the reproductive act. Want to come with me?”
My wife: “Okay, but I’m only going to watch.”
“Shouldn’t we at least buy the tree dinner first?”
You get the idea. The comedic possibilities are endless. I believe my wife at one point started singing Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” but I had to stop her because I was afraid it would cause instant infertility.
Meanwhile, my tree is sitting in a pot right next to its bigger cousin, so I just let nature take its course, but my columnar only managed about ten apples. Hers is now covered in dozens of beautiful little love children.
I don’t know if I can take all the credit, but somehow it makes me feel deeply validated as a man.
Blandon Ray is a professional IT engineer and amateur gardener, who has lived in Eugene for six years and has been learning to garden by being constantly in over his head.