Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Last Almond Tree in the D-E 500s Orchard Dies (147)


In the years when there were hardly any homes on the D-E 500s block (D & E between 5th & 6th), someone planted an orderly orchard of Almond trees there.

This orchard is seen in the left portion of the snapshot taken in 1922 reproduced here. A young Jane Vansell Zakarian poses with her mother, Mary Jane Vansell,  in front of their then-home at 516 D Street. The white spot in the distant left of the photo is 616 E, the only house in the 600 block of E Street at that time.


When I moved to 523 E (which is behind and one lot to the north of 516 D) in 1974, five Almond trees from that orchard remained. One was in my back yard at 523 and a second was next door to the north at 527 E.

Situated at right angles to these two were two more Almond trees in the back yards of 522 and 528 D. The four formed a “square,” a telltale sign that they began life as part of a geometically laid out orchard established prior to building the homes.

Alas, all four died in the ‘70s and ’80s and were removed. One theory of their demise is that all were situated in lawns now watered by newer owners such as myself, a circumstance I am told is bad for Almond trees.

But a fifth tree, in the backyard of 517 E, persisted. It put out wonderful blossoms each spring--until this year. Assuming it was part of the original orchard, it was on-the-order-of a hundred years old. One theory of its longevity is that residents at 517 E (when there were any) rarely if ever watered the back yard.

Two snapshots show the tree “before” and “after” as viewed from my backyard.