Decked Out in Fragrant Finery

w_blossoms 19

“The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one, and it would not be a wasted life.” – The Last Samurai

w_blossoms 12

In countries such as Japan, Korea and China, the arrival of the cherry blossom is a not-to-be-missed event. Old people, families and young lovers alike flock to the mountains, temples and parks that house the much-loved trees. And while the blossoms themselves are the main attraction, there can often be found tea ceremonies, specialty foods and crafts for sale as well.

In North America, big cities such as Vancouver, New York or Washington, D.C., also host festivals. But here in the Okanagan, where the orchards can stretch for acres and acres, dressed up in their delicate array, the season goes by with little ado.

Perhaps it has something to do with perception. In Asia, cherry blossoms are noted for their short and intensely beautiful life – a symbol of the transience of life in general. They are also omens of good fortune, and an emblem of love. Here, on the other hand, they are more harbingers of the sweet fruit to come. In this produce-rich valley, we’re all about the fruit.

w_blossoms 03

Still, we at The Pear Tree couldn’t resist celebrating this ephemeral beauty with a photo shoot at a local orchard. The one we visited is Westbank Harvest, on the outskirts of Westbank in West Kelowna.

w_blossoms 09w_blossoms 07
w_blossoms 06w_blossoms 10

And we had some help from our lovely models, Avery Philip (top right and bottom left, above) and Sarah MacDougall (top left and bottom right, above), who tried their best not to be overshadowed by the real stars of the shoot.

w_blossoms 04

Farmed by Brante Farrell and his father Farlie Paynter, Westbank Harvest grows 10 varieties of cherry – including one, a marble cherry that has both white and red flesh inside, that Brante is in the process of patenting.

w_blossoms 08
The Paynter family has been in the Okanagan since 1909, and the 10-acre orchard (which also grows apples and apricots) has been in the family since the 1940s.

w_blossoms 02

Brante and Farlie prefer the traditional way of orcharding, with row after row of canopy-creating trees. The newer, commercial style of planting attaches small trees to supports to grow them laterally, much like grape vines – resulting in larger crops that are faster and easier to pick. Brante says the old-fashioned way might be less practical, but it’s not as hard on the soil, and results in healthier trees.

w_blossoms 01

“The natural tree, in its natural state, also provides homes for a lot of small animals, including coyotes, pheasants and raccoons who live in and around our orchard,” Brante added. “It supports the local ecosystem better, and provides a welcoming atmosphere for families and tourists.”

Once his trees are heavy with their juicy, ruby treasure – around the beginning of July – cars full of families and buses full of tourists start pulling up to experience a working orchard and to pick a few pails of fruit.

w_blossoms 21
w_blossoms 22
w_blossoms 23w_blossoms 15

“We allow people to walk through the orchard and enjoy picking fruit off the trees to sample fresh, and to fill their pails. We should probably weigh them before and after we send them out, but we just charge by the weight of the pail,” Brante chuckles.

w_blossoms 20

When we were there, however, the orchard was quiet – except for the buzzing of bees, busy at the task of pollinating the buds so that a good crop of cherries will follow.

w_blossoms 16

It was a magical time – tranquil, carefree, resplendent. The kind of experience that should be celebrated, whether alone, in a group or with a kindred spirit.

w_blossoms 18

– Story and photos by Lori-Anne Poirier

Bookmark the permalink.

2 Comments

  1. I’m happy to see that you were able to connect with Brante. Isn’t his orchard beautiful? Lovely photos- it looks like you guys had a fun time at the orchard.

  2. I just have to comment on these photos. They are absolutely goregous! It’s too bad that the people of the Okanagan take this beauty foregranted. I guess we are just so excited about the fruit that we celebrate the harvest rather than the beauty that comes before it. There are a lot of life lessons we could learn from this actually. Our flowers might be overlooked but our fruit can’t go untasted. I hope that isn’t too corny.

Comments are closed