We still have quite a bit of snow on the ground at the moment. In some places it's still as high as three feet; in others, the ground is bare. The wind is responsible for the discrepancy. Around the tree trunks, it's as though there's a moat of bare ground as the snow swirled around them, but kept its distance when it finally landed.
Last weekend, I was walking the drifts that were still firm enough to hold my weight, getting a bird's eye view of the gardens and assessing the state of things at this point in the winter. I was reminded that we'd lost one of our two apple trees last fall, and I'd been contemplating which kind we should get to replace it.
I walked over to the remaining apple tree and immediately noticed a type of fungus growing on the north side of its trunk. The outer layer of bark under the fungus had separated from the tree and I was immediately alarmed. I took a few photos of it so I could post them on Twitter and hopefully get some advice as to what was going on here.
That's one of the beautiful things about Twitter. My group of "tweetmates" consists of mostly those as enamored with gardening as I am and they've taught me a lot in the months that I've been an active tweeter. They didn't let me down and within minutes of posting a photo of the fungus, I had two responses with the same answer.
Both trees were gifts from my parents when we moved here in 1977, so we've gotten a lot of good 'Red Delicious' apples over the years. But it's not likely this 32-year-old tree is going to do well, so we've decided to take it down in the spring and just start over with all new apple trees.
We've probably got room for at least three trees in that area, so we'll get a 'Honey Crisp' and two others that will be good pollinators for it. We like 'Gala' apples, too, so maybe that will be one of them. Hopefully, in a few years we'll once again have good apples to eat from our own trees.