for lasting gold, malus ‘bob white’

yellow-crab-2YOU WIN SOME, YOU LOSE A LOT. Gardening in the worst of times includes losses, and you may recall I lost a couple of crabapples this year to bark borers.  Gardening in the best of times is when a variety of crab like ‘Bob White’ is in fruit…the only one the birds have left for me to enjoy this winter, or at least so far.

malus-bob-whiteMalus ‘Bob White’ was great in flower—pinkish fading to near-white—but what I love about this crabapple, and why I grow it, is its golden fruit. Unlike some yellow-fruited crabs, ‘Bob White’ stays pretty nice through a lot of frosts in my cold zone; others turn brown and mushy too soon to be winter ornamentals, really.

‘Bob White’ didn’t make the Brooklyn Botanic Garden top 10 in their 2005 article rating crabs…but it was #11, the alternate behind ‘Hozam’ (or ‘Holiday Gold’) among the yellow-fruited forms. The article is worth a look if you’re thinking of adding a crabapple to your landscape, because choosing can be a challenge, and they have the great ones profiled.

cornus-and-malusI grow my yellow-fruited crabs just beyond a stand of yellow-twig dogwood, Cornus sericea ‘Silver and Gold,’ so that my distant view of the whole gleaming area right now is quite nice: linear gold beneath a haze of golden baubles. The photo shows a small section of the combination.

The birds will be back, I’m sure, for ‘Bob White,’ but offcolor fruits (read: other than red) seem to hold little interest until they are really hungry.  I’ve talked about this before with hollies, and the same hold true with crabs.  At least they have some consideration for my winter cheer, I suppose. By the way, I replaced the ‘Bob White’ the bark borers took. Gardening includes losses, yes, but mostly it includes faith.

  1. Dee/reddirtramblings says:

    I’d like to add some crabapples to my landscape, and I’ve been looking into them. A local church has several golden fruited ones, along with the traditional reds, but when I asked the grounds keeper, he didn’t know the varieties.

    I was hoping he would because these looked great all through fall.~~Dee

  2. Alexa - invisiblebees says:

    “…linear gold beneath a haze of golden baubles…” — garden poetry, Margaret. These are the kind of gems I admire most in your writing and love discovering here on your blog.

  3. margaret says:

    @Barbee: I got a canon and I have it aimed in that direction. :) No, really, the thing is to keep them clear around their trunks (no weeds/turf) and to check regularly for telltale signs and apparently use pyrethrins rated for borers…a friend with an orchard is schooling me in that last bit, so stay tuned.

    Welcome, Genevieve. Yes, with three of these trees in a grouping and about 7 or 8 twig dogwoods, it is a nice scene. I am now replicating it in hotter color using red-twig dogwoods near some of my red-fruited trees. See you soon again we hope.

  4. Tammy says:

    Margaret, you have such an incredible ability to landscape with color and textures. Is it a gift or can it be learned? I agree with Alexa – “garden poetry”.

  5. margaret says:

    Thank you, Tammy (and Alexa, and all). I think it’s nearly 30 years of trial and error (heavy on the error). My mentor always reminds me that even the most experienced gardeners succeed by one key process: moving things around (and around and around). I wrote about the frustration of all the earlier learning years in this old essay (that I reprised this year for the blog), called “Throwing in the Trowel.”

  6. leslie land says:

    Good as gold, as usual… always something nifty to learn here

    and it’s especially gratifying to hear an expert observer like you confirm the off-red fruit thing. In my limited experience, yellow cherries are – a little – safer than red ones; yellow and orange tomatoes are less likely to get pecked; and our white wood strawberries don’t seem to be bothered at all. (By birds, that is. The chipmunks are another story.)

  7. Alan says:

    Love the yellow berries. I just planted two Michael Dodge viburnums (Viburnum dilatatum) this fall. I’m looking forward to the yellow berries they produce. I planted them in the same bed as my beauty berries. I figured that they would make a nice color combination.

  8. margaret says:

    Welcome, Alan. ‘Michael Dodge’ has a role in this all-gold area as well, but the five or six that I planted nearby haven’t grown up yet…someday. It’s a great plant–thanks for mentioning, and do some again soon.

  9. Rick says:

    Yellow crabs! What a great idea for contrast against my back fence. I either do not get out much, or there just is not many “other-than-red-fruit” crabapples around here. I am sure I would have noticed. We tend to have mono-based landscapes here, i.e. if the neighbor planted it, I will plant it too kind of mentality. But now thanks to you Margaret I have a great idea for the back fence. Thanks!

  10. Melanie says:

    When my husband and I moved into our home 25 years ago there were 2 small crabapples in the backyard. Today they are quite large. One is a yellow fruited variety. Flocks of ROBINS show up around Christmas time to feast on them.

  11. Ilona says:

    I love crabapple trees! Yours are especially lovely- the pictures showcase their beauty perfectly.

    The golden combination is quite effective, -really,really like that.

  12. Carol says:

    Hi, I had gotten interested in Bob White Crabapple for a special place, but seeing the pictures on your page really made me want to get one. However I can’t seem to find a source. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Carol. I got mine locally, so I know they are in commercial production. I recommend that you ask the best local nursery (the one with best trees and shrubs) to get it in for you; my local places will always do that, though I may have to wait for a delivery later in the season. They have access to the wholesale lists that we don’t, and hopefully one of their suppliers will have it. Don’t know whee you are located, so my local source is probably of no use.

  13. Maureen says:

    Hi Margaret.

    My grandmother passed away this year and my husband and I want to plant a couple of crabapples in her honor. She used to make the best crabapple jelly and the tree makes me think of her. I am not as talented as she was and won’t be making any jelly so decided to go with a small fruit variety. After reading this post I’ve got my heart set on “Bob White”. We have asked all the best local nurseries in Fairfield, CT with no luck. We aren’t too far from you…can you recommend an nursery to call? If not, can you recommend another small fruit variety that you love and might be easier to find? Thanks in advance – I’m such a fan.


    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Maureen. Give a call to Windy Hill in Great Barrington, MA and see — they like this variety.

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