In the Orchards

We spent a late February afternoon gathering Apricot branches that had just been pruned in the Saratoga Heritage Orchard. I wanted to bring an armful home and enjoy the delicate fragrance and beauty of the blossoms that last for more than a week. My friend Neal planned to bring his to a “social” he was organizing at the Saratoga Odd Fellows Hall.

Pruner at Saratoga Heritage Orchard
Saratoga Heritage Orchard
Apricot cuttings
Apricot cuttings

Our timing was perfect on a clear warm day, when much of the orchard work was finished and all we had to do was choose from piles of cut branches brimming with buds and showing some flowers.

The mustard was bright and reminded us of younger days, romping through it and hiding where it grew really tall. The beautiful Saratoga hills and ancient oaks that dot the orchard were stately backdrops to the orchard rows.


Novakovich apricot blooms
Novakovich Apricot blooms

Moving on to Novakovich Orchards, located practically next door on Fruitvale Avenue (so aptly named), we stopped in at the farm shop and chatted with George about the weather and prospects for the new apricot crop.

Lisa with George Novakovich
Lisa with George Novakovich

Fortunately, this El Nino year has not only brought enough rain to date but also the requisite 80 days of temperatures below 45 degrees that Apricots need during the dormant winter phase.

I purchased 5 lbs of dried apricots for the photo shoot in Seattle the following weekend and three boxes of Chocolate Dipped Apricots to take to family and friends,and then we headed into the orchard for a walk before the sun dropped too low. The trees at the Novakovich’s property were in fuller bloom than the Heritage Orchard and the contrast between the gnarled limbs of the mature trees and the delicate apricot blossoms was striking.

Apricot blossom

I can’t believe we didn’t break into a box of chocolate apricots! But we enjoyed a happy afternoon appreciating the arrival of Spring in the last orchards in Saratoga.

Lisa perched in apricot tree
Lisa perched

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11 comments on “ In the Orchards”:

  1. Tried your Apricot Almond Coffeecake this morning, delicious! I had very small, ripe Blenheim apricots (from an older, unfertilized tree) and a 10 inch dish, so I baked it just under 40 minutes. I forgot the powdered sugar on top, but it didn’t need it–yummy! Looking forward to your cookbook!

    1. Wonderful to hear you enjoyed the cake, Sue! I’m hard at work on the cookbook this summer (and pie and jam-making too!)

  2. I love the blog. I remember all the orchards and sitting in the trees around the Fourth of July eating the apricots as we picked them for my mom. She made everything she could think of with them including ice cream. We had nine trees in our yard. To this day, no apricot has ever tasted the same or as good as the ones that ripened on the tree and were eaten up high on a branch that, for a ten year old, seemed above the world.

    Congratulations to you and Eric for the project well done!


  3. Lisa the memories are both joyful and heartbreaking for me. My Grandparents, aunts and uncles and a cousin are buried in Madrone Cemetery. I miss them all! I miss Saratoga more than I can put into words for a variety of reasons. I loved the orchards! I loved being able to walk to school through the orchards. I had fun cutting cots as a kid. My mom told the story that she got 5 cents a tray…I think we got 50 cents a tray.
    I loved my friends from school and church. I have loved again beyond words reconnecting with my classmates! I am very appreciative of the ones I have the pleasure of communicating with.


  4. What a lovely visit to Saragota. I could almost smell the sweet apricot blossom aroma wafting across my screen, from your description. cx

  5. Brings back a lot of memories. So glad there are still a few orchards left in Saratoga. Can’t wait for the cookbook Lisa. I love to bake.

  6. Beautiful story and pictures. Would love to buy a cookbook
    when ready. The fruit at Novakovich’s is wonderful and they take
    such great care of “The Heritage Orchard”. Thanks.

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