Imagine a single tree with a variety of branches each producing its own type of fruit. You can harvest Plums, Peaches, nectarines, apricots and almonds while only having to maintain a single tree! This would be ideal if you don’t happen to have room for a full orchard in your backyard or garden! Well, Van Aken has done just that when he created the “Tree of 40 Fruit.” His purpose in creating this tree was to create a piece of art. He wanted a Tree that bloomed all throughout the growing season with many different shades of color ranging from white to crimson and every shade of pink in-between. He did just that by grafting different types of stone fruit together over a period of roughly 5 years. He chose stone fruit because they are easily compatible with each other. Van Aken made sure to include antique, native and heirloom varieties of fruit which he acquired through local farmers to ensure the survival of rarer varieties of fruit in his Tree of 40 Fruit. Not only is the combined effect a beautiful, multicolored tree but it also has the added benefit of providing a plethora of fruits as well. Beauty and a bountiful harvest all in a single tree!
This is a rendering of what Van Aken believes a mature fruit tree will look like when in full bloom
Throughout most of the year the “Tree of 40 Fruit” could be mistaken for any other tree
The spring-time is when it’s true colors shine through
These trees are still relatively young, Van Aken only grafts a few types of fruit trees in the root structure and then allows them to mature for 2 years before grafting other types of fruit into the tree. It generally takes 5 years to complete a “Tree of 40 Fruit”
Here is an example of the grafting process to combine two trees into one
Van Aken has completed about 16 different “Trees of 40 Fruit” so far. Some of which can be found across the country in cities like Santa Fe, NM; Pound Ridge, NY; Louisville, KY and Short Hills, NJ.
After the beautiful spring-time bloom comes the extended harvest season
Peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, and cherries are some of the types of stone fruit found on Van Aken’s trees. They are referred to as stone fruit because the seed is very large and hard
Fruit trees can take anywhere from 2 to 7 years to produce fruit
Van Aken considers his tree to be artwork. He calls it “sculpting by way of grafting”. By grafting specific varieties of fruit he can control how the tree will blossom.
Van Aken explains the process in detail in the video below. Take a look!