dward peach bonanza 2016

Dwarf Peach Bonanza 2016

Dwarf Peach Bonanza 2016

Dwarf Peach Bonanza, my first one that I had for many years and loved for its early spring blooms, peaches, the beauty of the little tree itself in the growing season, the interesting bare branches in the winter, died in the extreme, brutal cold of February 2011. It had produced and been a joy for many years.

In the fall of 2014, my wonderful neighbors not only gave me a new one, but planted it for me. It bloomed in the spring of 2015, but didn’t produce (late cold). This year the bloom was gorgeous, to no one’s surprise, but it once again got cold late and I was doubting production of any peaches.
I am happy to say the little tree is producing some peaches this year, beautiful little blush covered peaches! I could have thinned them a bit to produce larger peaches, but I really wasn’t looking for peaches after the cold snap. These were something of a delightful surprise.

dwarf peach bonanza

Dwarf Peach Bonanza 2016

The peaches will be ready to eat before too long. I’ll want to harvest them before the birds get them, but in the brief time before that, the tree and the peaches make wonderful photographic subjects.

Thank you, Rosemary and Burton!

developing pears

Developing Pears

Developing Pears for 2015

Pears – two varieties – appear to be developing well for 2015. A lot can happen between now and harvest time, but this year seems to be off to a good start!

For the fruit to develop, two trees are required for pollination. I do not know what varieties these are; they were at the house when I bought it. But one produces fruit that tastes delicious to people; the other produces fruit that is preferred by a variety of birds. Everyone is happy! The birds leave mine alone, and I leave theirs alone. 🙂 )))))))))

developing pears

This developing fruit will become quite tasty to people in August

developing pears

Fruit of the pollinator tree. These pears will be small and hard. The birds like them, though.

dwarf peach 'bonanza'

Dwarf Peach Bonanza

My New Dwarf Peach ‘Bonanza’ in Its first Bloom

Dwarf Peach Bonanza, as many long-time readers here know, was one of my very favorite plants in my yard for many years. The one tree I had for so long died in February 2011 when we had the very cold few days. The tree never recovered.

Many new varieties of dwarf peach trees have been developed since I purchased the original one years ago. But, in reading about them, the original ‘Bonanza‘ seemed to still be the ideal one for my Albuquerque yard. I wasn’t sure if I could find one or not, however.

I have the most wonderful neighbors who have done many things for me over the years. In 2014 they found some Bonanza trees here in Albuquerque, and gave me a replacement one as a Christmas present. You cannot imagine how happy I was! They even planted it for me!

In February we had a prolonged warm spell, and everything started to bud out. Then, we had snow for a couple of days, and while it was not all that cold, some of the buds were damaged. This week, however, buds that had not been too developed earlier have begun to open, and they are as beautiful as I remember. I do not know if I will get peaches this year, but that is beside the point. It is as beautiful as I remember, and a great specimen addition to the patio area.

dwarf peach bonanza

Blossoms of Dwarf Peach Bonanza

pear blossoms

Pear Blossoms

Pear Blossoms, Another Sign of Spring

Pear blossoms are another sign that spring has arrived. Many of the Bradford pears around Albuquerque have been blooming for a week or so. This is a different pear, one which produces delicious pears for eating. I do not know the name. It was at the house when I bought it. Also at the house is a pollinator pear, necessary for the production of the pear fruit. The tree from which this image comes produces “people” pears, which the birds really do not like. The pollinator pear produces “bird” pears, which this person really does not like. All the way around, it works out very well.

pear blossoms

Pear Blossoms, Just Beginning to Bloom

rose 'queen elizabeth' early spring

Spring Too Early?

Spring Too Early? We Won’t Know until Summer

Spring. Can it ever be too early? As the Northeast is buried under record total snowfall for a winter, Albuquerque has been enjoying a stretch of warm, sunny, windless days, with highs hovering around 70°F. It is glorious just to be out and enjoying what many – including me – would describe as “perfect weather.”

clematis early spring

Clematis putting on growth in early February

Early growth on my clematis vine, growing as a companion plant with my rose ‘Mermaid.’

The question for a gardener, though, here in the High Desert, is, “can spring be too early?” That is a question that cannot be answered until late May! Why? The average last frost-free date here is in mid-April. If plants have already sprung forth with new growth, the tender new growth can die. One year we have a very late freeze in mid-May, and by that time the roses already had much new growth, buds, and some were actually blooming. That freeze killed back much of the new growth, and the Spring Rose Show of the Albuquerque Rose Society was pretty small that year. Along with the show, we had an Arrangement Judging School (taught by Lew Shupe and Gary Barlow!) attended by rose lovers from all over the Pacific Southwest District. The only roses that year I had to donate to the school for practice arrangements was ‘Betty Boop.’ Although that is the latest killing freeze I have experienced in my part of Albuquerque, I have not forgotten it!

Then there are the fruit trees. I have the dwarf peach ‘Bonanza,’ a fruit tree I truly love for many reasons. But, it is an early bloomer, and some years we get a freeze after the bloom and no peaches will be harvested that year. I grow it for many reasons besides the peaches, but I still prefer the years when peaches form. 🙂 I also have two pear trees: one that produces pears people like to eat, and the pollinator pear that produces pears the birds like to eat. Win-win for all! In years with late freezes, after the pears trees have bloomed, the tree with the fruit for people will not produce. I have to say, the pollinator pear is tough – the birds nearly always have their fruit produced.

Today and tomorrow are also supposed to be glorious days with highs around 70. I will be out enjoying the weather, and working in the garden to dig weeds and to do general clean-up. I could not ask for better weather. But behind all of that is just a bit of worry that the plants that are responding to the glorious weather now may also respond to cold weather and late freezes that can be part of life in the Southwest Desert. We won’t know if spring is too early until summer has arrived.


Peach ‘Bonanza’ in Fall

Peach 'Bonanza'

Peach 'Bonanza'

The dwarf peach ‘Bonanza’ is a beautiful little tree in spring, summer, and winter; but it is not usually known for its colors in the fall, at least in the desert Southwest. This fall has proven to be spectacular, as has the little dwarf peach, ‘Bonanza.’


Harvest Time for ‘Bonanza’ Peaches!

Today was the day to begin harvesting the peaches. How do I know? A little bird told me!

Bird-pecked peach

As soon as the peaches almost reach ripeness, the birds begin to sample them. Some people cover their fruit trees with netting to protect the fruit from being eaten by the birds. I find it easier to pick the fruit and let it finish ripening a day or so indoors.

This is what one branch looked liked before I picked its peaches. Notice that the branch is almost horizontal from the weight of the peaches (another reason to thin the peaches after the danger of frost has past).


This is what the same branch looked liked after the peaches had been picked:

June 29, 2008

Harvesting of the peaches as they ripen will continue over the next week or two. Yummmm. . .


Dwarf Peach ‘Bonanza:” What to Do With the Little Peaches You Did Not Thin

Small peaches

Once the risk of a hard freeze is past, the tiny peaches need to be thinned if you want to get large fruit. Otherwise you will get a whole lot of small, but very tasty, fruit. A shame, you might be thinking. That would all depend upon what use you intended to make of the peaches.

These small peaches make wonderful whole spiced peaches to be canned for use in the winter holidays. They are first canned whole (recipe to follow). They can be cut in half and served over ice cream as a holiday dessert. They can be served alone as dessert. They can be used in a fruit compote. Halved, they make a wonderful topping for custard tartlets. Peaches this size can usually be packed 12 to a quart jar. The ‘Bonanza’ peaches will turn the syrup a wonderful shade of red.

Whole Spiced Peaches (for small peaches) – Recipe from the Ball Blue Book

Wash peaches; drop into boiling water for 30 – 60 seconds; immediately plunge into cold water. Peel fruit, but leave whole. Drop into a solution of FruitFresh or similar while all of the fruit is peeled. Be sure to wash before adding to hot syrup mixture.

For eight pounds of peaches, combine
1 cup sugar
4 cups water
2 cups honey
in a large saucepot and cook until sugar dissolves. Add one layer of peaches at a time to the hot syrup, and cook for about three minutes. Pack hot peaches into hot jars. Leave 1/2 inch headspace.
To each jar, add
1 stick of cinnamon
1/4 tsp whole cloves
1/2 tsp whole allspice
Ladle hot syrup into jars, again leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
Remove air bubbles.
Secure 2-piece lids.
Process in a water bath for 25 minutes.

When cool, be sure to store in a cool, dark spot until you are ready to enjoy these wonderful little peaches.


Another Challenge: Late Hard Freezes

This weekend I am in Tucson, located in the Sonoran Desert of the southwest, rather than the high Chihuahuan Desert in which Albuquerque is located. Many years ago I lived here for seven years, and although many things about the city have changed, the plants have remained pretty much the same. Palm trees, which do not grow in the Albuquerque area, are pretty much a staple of cities in the Sonoran Desert.

The first thing I noticed when I arrived yesterday was that the palm trees looked very strange: the centers were green, but the outer fronds were brown and looked dead. I did not recall ever seeing all of them look like that before (click to enlarge image).

Palm trees, Tucson 4/13/07

“What happened to the palm trees?” I asked.

“All the palms had been trimmed up this spring, but after that there was a late freeze that lasted several days.”

In all the years I lived in Tucson that had never happened. Fortunately, the palms seem to be recovering well.

I have certainly seen that happen to roses in Albuquerque, and I hope I have no pictures of that to show you later this season.

(There are some photos of roses with this type of damage, however, and an excellent discussion here.)


Early Spring in the High Desert: Fruit Trees

Here in Albuquerque, the first things to bloom in my yard in the spring are bulbs and the dwarf peach, Bonanza. I have grown this peach tree in a 3/4 whiskey barrel since the late 1980’s. No matter how cold or how warm the winter, it has never failed to bloom. This year, after the very heavy snows but relatively mild winter temperatures, the blooms were spectacular.

‘Bonanza’ bloom Continue reading