Monday, July 28, 2014

Plum Confused

Our friends, M and H, grow a variety of fruits and vegetables in their large garden and orchard. Last week they shared some of their delicious and unusual fruit with us. The large plums are Elephant Heart Plums, and I had thought the small yellow plums were pluots or plumcots. But I have been informed that they are actually apriums, a hybrid of 70% apricot and 30% plum. Plumcots, first hybridized by Luther Burbank in 1905, are a hybrid of half plum and half apricot, and pluots are 75% plum and 25% apricot. But I may be confused about the percentages.

All I know is that I really like the taste of the aprium. I think it tastes more like an apricot but has the texture of a plum. A very good combination!

By coincidence I had just been reading The Garden of Invention: Luther Burbank and the Business of Breeding Plants ©2009 by Jane S. Smith, a book recommended to me by friend and fellow gardener JC.

Apparently the Elephant Heart Plum was one of Luther Burbank's more than 800 plant inventions. The book is a fascinating account of his life from birth in Massachusetts in 1849 until his death in 1926 in Santa Rosa, California.

Although we visited his famous gardens in Santa Rosa 30 years ago this month, I couldn't find any photos from that trip. But here is the website if you would like more information. Luther Burbank Home and Gardens

The author tells the story of this quiet and gentle man whose goal was not to get rich from his inventions (there were no patent laws for plants at that time), but to make the world a better place. It would be a great book to read as you savor some of the fruits of summer.

Elberta peaches, another of Burbank's introductions, are finally ready to eat here in the Valley and have just made their appearance at the local fruit stands. Mr S bought a few the other day and we have been enjoying them freshly sliced. No need for pies or cobblers.

Elberta Peaches

Our son has a Santa Rosa plum (another tree developed by Burbank in 1906) growing in his back yard. He transplanted it thirteen years ago from his grandmother's garden after she passed away. This year he had a large harvest, and after giving away as much fruit as he could, he decided to use the remaining fruit for jelly or jam.

Santa Rosa Plums
It was his first attempt, but now he has many jars of tasty jelly to show for his efforts. I think the few remaining plums will be left for the squirrels!

We have been the grateful recipients of several jars of the delicious Santa Rosa plum jelly.

We have Luther Burbank to thank not only for new varieties of fruits and vegetables but also new grains, nuts, and flowers. Here is a quote that I think all gardeners can appreciate:

"Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul." Luther Burbank


  1. Love the Burbank quote--absolutely true. I enjoy the taste of Plums, but not Apricots. So, the Plumcots and Pluots sound tasty. But I'll try just about anything, so maybe the Apriums would taste good to me, too. Lucky you to have a ready supply of Plum jam!

  2. Hi Beth, I, too, prefer plums to apricots and the Apriums are very tasty, sweet and juicy. The plum jam is better than any I have bought from the store!

  3. Plums are one of my very favorite fruits. How nice that they shared some with you.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

    1. Hi Cher, I love the summer fruits and I enjoy trying different varieties. Friends with fruit is a very good thing! And sons with plums, too!

  4. ' ... sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.' So true, Dorothy. This posting made my mouth water. P. x

    1. Hi Pam, I think that is a great quote. Luther Burbank certainly understood plants! In fact, he had a pretty good understanding of all living things. He was a remarkable man. Have a great weekend!