Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Stone Fruit

Art and Environment, Environmental & Science Education

by Edward Hessler

A stone fruit tree, possibly a plum (Prunus species); Wellcome V0043705
See page for author
 [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons
Art Professor Creates Live Tree Sculptures
Art professor Sam Van Aken creates live tree sculptures of forty different fruits through grafting, one branch at a time. He is a faculty member in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University.

A full-blown Tree of Forty Fruit is comprised exclusively of stone fruits--fruits with pits. The pecan may be a bit of a surprise but not in the botanical world.  Van Aken grew up on a farm and had seen grafting done as a child.  An article by Geoff Herbert provides the details of the project including the serendipitous event that led him to his present preoccupation with grafted fruit trees.

About this event Herbert writes "The project began in 2008 when Van Aken discovered an orchard at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva that had more than 200 varieties of plums and apricots. When he learned it was to be abandoned, he picked up the lease and began...." 

Video on Van Aken's Grafting process

Apple tree grafting 2
By Karelj (Own work) [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
In a National Geographic video Van Aken talks about his work, provides a tour of his nursery, demonstrates the grafting technique and shows pages from his meticulously kept notebooks.  Each page is a visualization of the grafting design for a particular tree. The resulting diagrams are lovely and provide a glimpse of how this artist keeps a working record of his work.

In this web page are found photographs of Van Aken's work. The full grafting process takes from five to ten years.

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