Iona and the Apple Tree – a Tale of Hidden Strength?

On a gloriously sunny autumn morning last year; one of those days when the sun is bright but low in the sky and there is a haze that fuses the light and makes everything seem like a dream, my daughter, Iona, and I were at home and in the garden admiring the late roses and peacefully breathing in the crisp air. So when my – it must be noted – rather slight daughter, pulled at an apple on the tree we were under and the entire branch came with it, it was something of a shock! No damage to us, but the tree had lost a major limb.  We sat amongst the debris giggling and ate a couple of the tastiest apples to be found in England.

Isaac newton moment

I was reminded of this little moment last weekend when Iona was home from her job in Bristol and we found ourselves relaxing once again under the (remains) of the apple tree. She was leaning nonchalantly against the tree and we were discussing nothing in particular, when it gracefully decided to give up altogether, snapped slowly at the base and with a rather quiet ‘crunch’, fell to the ground. Does my daughter have hidden strength or, (more likely) are we just old sentimentalists and should have taken the ailing tree down years ago?

Whatever, it got me thinking about apple wood and its possible use as a fittings material. We have all read about the restrictions on exotic woods into America, and heard from our friends and colleagues about their worries and direct experiences when traveling with their stringed instruments. It is perhaps time to experiment a little with our native woods and see how they perform in the peg box. Some years ago, Hansell Violins made all the fittings for a new orchestra, The Vivaldi Project, from plum wood, and as far as I am aware, these fittings are in use and still performing as they should.

I am in touch with several suppliers as I write and we will be doing our own tests over the coming months and will be offering a range of rather beautiful, sustainable and fully fit-for-purpose ‘native’ fittings. I would be interested to know your thoughts and experiences on this subject.

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