We have a beautiful and very productive crab apple tree at the bottom of our garden. It provides useful shade in the summer for the chickens but for us it provides a wonderful and very heavy harvest. Being a Malus “Butterball” it has pendular branches each giving us masses of small yellow fruits which are all blushed orange or red. It is a beautiful ornamental tree as well as being productive.
We never need to harvest many branches so the majority of the fruit is left for the local Blackbirds and Mistle Thrushes early in the autumn and the few they leave will be gorged by visiting thrushes, the Redwings and Fieldfares from the colder continent.
This year we have decided to make Crab Apple Jelly flavoured with cloves to use up some of the fruit.
We have another much younger Crab Apple, a purely ornamental variety close to the path that meanders between the Bog Garden and the Prairie Garden. It has masses of scented pink and white flowers in early spring followed in late summer by orange/red tiny fruits. It grows among cerise flowered Lychnis coronaria and various ornamental grasses.
In the communal gardens at our allotment site, Bowbrook Allotment Community, we grow several varieties of Crabs as ornamental trees and to act as reliable long flowering pollinators for our orchard apples. And they work. Since we added these Crab trees the yields from the orchards have noticeably increased.