This is Bill Wilde, Fort Langley arbourist and member of the Derby Reach Brae Island Park Association. I had the good fortune last Saturday to work with him and Sharon Meneely to conduct a tour of the heritage apple orchard at Derby Reach Regional Park in the Township of Langley as part of Metro Vancouver’s celebration of its volunteers.
The rain was lashing down as we talked about the layerings of history on the site — from First Nations settlement on the banks of the Fraser, a long way through time to the HBC’s multicultural and multilingual work force and its long-term interest in the area. Sharon talked about the Park Association and its work through the years in getting the century-plus-old apple trees recognized and on the road to identification and recovery. It has been a giant task, but one done with curiousity and pleasure.
Bill told us about the inventory of trees they conducted, about the power of the humble blackberry to scale trees and cover them, and about the structural prunings they did to ensure the longevity of these old-timers — with names like Winter Banana, Northern Spy, Baldwin, Wolf River.
Bill and Sharon’s talks were truly inspiring — a little down-home, a little NPR, and fascinating throughout. Thanks to Michelle and Liz from Metro Van who put the morning together. And double thanks to Liz and my mom for baking some mean pies from ambrosia, spartan, and transparent apples.