Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Frijole Ranch's Orchard in Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Elberta Fay peach tree blossoming
last week at Frijole Ranch
If you want great hiking, natural beauty, and a wealth of history wrapped up in one place, you can't go wrong with the Smith Spring Trail/Frijole Ranch at Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

The area is blessed with springs, including Smith Spring (pictured below) and Manzanita Spring, both places that attract wildlife.  Last week we visited the trail and were delighted to see Frijole Ranch's Centennial Orchard starting to bloom.  More on the park's seeps and springs, here.

Centennial Orchard with the Frijole
Ranch house in the background
The orchard was restored several years ago through the efforts of a local boy scout troop, lead by an Eagle Scout candidate.  Old varieties of apples and stone fruit were planted to represent the diversity of species popular during the Smith family's tenure at Frijole Ranch.   You can read about the Ranch's history (including information on the Smiths) here.

Last week, a couple of varieties of peach trees were flowering and it seemed other fruits were budding as well.

The most beautiful display was from the Elberta Fay peach--Prunus persica--with its label reading:  "Originated in the SE United States, cultivated since the early 1800s.  Uses:  fresh, canned, preserves, dried.  Late-ripening yellow freestone variety from which many other peach varieties were cultivated."
Elberta Fay peach

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