by Don Ricks, lead orchard steward at Piper’s Orchard, Amy Yee Tennis Center Orchard, and Good Shepherd Center orchard
Probably the most historic orchard in Seattle is Piper’s Orchard in Carkeek Park. Some apple and pear trees there were planted over 120 years ago. www.pipersorchard.org
These trees were planted by Andrew W. Piper after he left his bakery business in the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 and retired to “the country” to work on his orchard and other projects.
The most common variety of fruit that he planted that survives today is called the Wealthy apple. This apple was common 100 years ago but is not common today. It is a variety that was primarily used for pie apples at the time, but even today it is highly prized as an apple for making hard apple cider.
The Wealthy apple was discovered by Peter Gideon of Excelsior, Minnesota in the late 1800s. At the time, Mr. Gideon invested literally his last dollar to try to come up with an apple that could withstand the cold Minnesota winters. We can be glad today that he discovered such a healthy apple because not only are the trees exceptionally long-lived, but they have been amazingly prolific year after year in Piper’s Orchard.
The Wealthy apple is just one of many heirloom apples still going strong here in the Pacific Northwest.
Click here for a map of the fruit trees at Piper’s Orchard:
For more information about Piper’s Orchard, see the City Fruit website describing stewarded orchards.
Photo credit: Seattle Tree Fruit Society Bob’s 100
We’d love to get you engaged in the City Fruit family! Check out upcoming events, become an ambassador to manage the fruit trees in your neighborhood and get your community involved, sign up to volunteer, or become a member to support City Fruit monthly or annually.