Orchard and Vegetable Gardens
“Trees are the earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.”
- Rabindranath Tagore
The layouts of the Coval House orchards and gardens are very similar to the traditional German “Streuobstwiese” or meadow orchard,an informal arrangement of fruit and nut trees scattered throughout an open meadow. There are advantages to a Streuobstwiese over a grid structure typical of production orchards. A meadow orchard, with a random mixture of species throughout the landscape, echoes the biodiversity of a natural forest. It not only supports the needs of the native wildlife more effectively, a meadow orchard has less negative upon the soil. Secondly, a Streuobstwiese while primarily existing for food production, also contributes to the aesthetics of an ornamental garden. Fruit trees produce beautiful flowers in the spring, and mature fruit trees can rival many ornamentals with their color. In addition, the meadow orchard adds spectacular color and texture in the fall and provides appropriate scale to the five-acre estate of the Coval House. The old fruit and nut trees along with the grand native trees on the property also provide the foundation for the valuable ornamentals that have been added in recent decades.
The fruit orchard consists of apple, pear, cherry, quince and plum trees, many of which are old growth trees planted by David Alexander between 1903-1915. There are many different varieties, some of the early apple varieties are rare and still yet to be identified. The nut trees include French Chestnut, English Walnut and Hazelnut. In addition to fruit and nut trees there are berries, grapes and two large vegetable gardens on the estate.
There are forty-three apple trees on the estate including Gravenstein, Transparent, Melrose, Spartan, and Northern Spy which continue to produce from fifty to one hundred gallons of outstanding juice per year. A cold storage room on the estate keeps fruit that will be used for applesauce, vinegar, and fantastic pastries. In addition to the apple trees, there are six pear trees including Bosc, Bartlett and Asian varieties, and four cherry trees, two Bings and two Rainiers. Plums include Shiro, Italian, Duarte and Greengage varieties.
The two French Chestnuts just west of the Master Bedroom are of historic note, being planted by David Alexander around 1910. The Chestnut trees continue to produce prolifically, and have also produced a number of volunteer trees that have been relocated to other sites on the estate.
There are two vegetable gardens, one near the sport court and the other located on the southwest corner of the property. The northeast garden typically produces lettuce, tomatoes, herbs, peppers, onions, artichokes and more. The southwest garden has currants, corn, pumpkins and melons. There are blueberries, raspberries, currants and grapes at ideal locations around the estate that also contribute to the organic harvest. No pesticides or chemicals are used anywhere on the Coval Estate, assuring everything grown is 100% organic.
One unexpected by-product of the fruit trees is the trimmings and branches left from the yearly pruning. These are collected, dried and used in the fish smoker. The smoker has produced hundreds of delicious salmon fillets using apple wood, pear wood and cherry wood. Countless visitors to the Coval House have left the estate with a gallon of apple juice and a gem of smoked salmon, smiling in disbelief at their good fortune.
For a detailed list of trees and plants on the Coval estate, go to “Resources/ Specifications”.