Episode 37: The Case of the Capilano Apricots

Brooklin smiles with sunglasses in front of Capilano apricot tree #1

Brooklin Schneider asks us to help her find out who planted the Capilano apricots – three apricot trees growing beside the road on 75 Street.

Brooklin semi-recently moved to Edmonton, and was surprised by how many fruits and vegetables can grow in our northern climate. She was intrigued when she heard about three trees growing in an alley between a regular old residential street and 75 Street – a busy road that is basically a freeway.

A map showing the intersection of 75 Street and 86 Ave
The three trees’ location

Local plant expert Dustin Bajer filled us in on the basics of what’s known about these three apricot trees. All three are on the boulevard on the west side of 75 street, between 86 Ave and 87 Ave.

Brooklin and Dustin stand on the branch of a tree splaying sideways to the right
Tree 1 (the furthest south)
Dustin and Brooklin point to Tree 2, which is more upright. A car drives by in the background.
Tree 2, with 75 Street in the background.
Dustin and Brooklin hold hands and each touch a tree
Tree 2 and 3 are within hand-holding distance.
Dustin and Brooklin look over at Tree 3
Tree 3, the farthest north of the three.

Listen first, then scroll down below for more information.

spoilers below

Dustin had a hunch the trees may have been planted by Robert Simonet – a plant breeder who ran a market garden near by until 1958, and was known for experimenting with petunias, corn, and lilies.

An Edmonton Journal article with the headline "City Man Begins World's Rarest Harvest"
An Edmonton Journal article about Robert Simonet and his famous double-flowering petunias.

Brendan Casement, a semi-retired horticulturalist who used to work for the Alberta government’s Crop Diversification Centre horticultural station in Brooks, filled in a lot of the blanks for us.

Brendan Casement stands in front of a horse chestnut tree in his backyard.
Brendan Casement stands in front of a horse chestnut tree in his backyard.
Brooklin looks on while Brendan pulls out a cherry from the tree
Brendan and Brooklin look at one of his cherry trees

This episode is made possible by support from Taproot Edmonton and the Edmonton Historical Board.

We also gave shout-outs in the episode to YourForest and The Well-Endowed Podcast.

Further Reading:

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