Sam van Aken is an extraordinary artist and a professor at Syracuse University that created incredible trees bearing 40 different types of fruits by using the technique of “chip grafting”. The grafting is a process in which a small part of a branch with a bud gets sliced from a tree and gets inserted into a slit in a branch on the tree that is going to bear all the varieties on it. Then the 2 branches get wrapped with tape until they heal and the bud starts to grow into a new, fresh branch.
The process may take years to actually grow fruits. Over several years he adds branch slices of different trees to the “working tree”. All varieties have slightly different seasonal outcomes, which is why in the spring it some part of the tree blossoms in pink, and purple and some still have got buds. In the summer the tree starts to bear the fruits on specific sequence based on each fruit growing cycle.
To find the right fruits for grafting Sam has traveled to New York state and brought the branches to help him with grafting. According to him, many farmers that he has worked with always asked him why he’d ever do that, as it requires always going back and taking care of those trees throughout all seasons. Sam’s answer answer was simple and that is “art”. The idea came to him with some inspirations from Frankenstein and Dr. Seuss, and that’s how he has started his tree garden. His trees grow apricots, peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries, almonds, and more throughout the year!
Van Aken describes it as a work of art and a timeline of the varieties’ blossoming and fruiting. His created trees have found their home at many places across the U.S., such as museums and parks.