Capitol Hill Garden Club In Washington, D.C., Since 1952

The Myer Lemon Tree Story, by Barbara Marks

December 23, 2016 7:54 AM | Joseph Purdy (Administrator)

The Meyer Lemon Tree Story


                     by Barbara Marks


First I should say that I fell in love with the fragrance of citrus blossoms when as a teenager I visited my aunt on Long Island. She had a true orangerie, so that even in winter we could sit in the humid warmth of the place surrounded by the wonderful smell of the flowering trees. Skip ahead 50 to 60 years, my husband and I were in Alabama and there was a small Meyer lemon tree for sale at a farm stand. It already had some lemons growing on it. I bought it and put it in the back seat of the car for the long drive home. 


I knew that Washington was not the ideal climate and living in a townhouse on the Hill, I would have to move it inside in winter. The tree seemed to be doing well, blossoms appeared in December. But soon they dropped without forming the nubs that grow into fruit. I complained to someone who said citrus trees need a lot of sun. So I put the tree back outside in the summer where it thrived- lots of green leaves. Where to put this little tree for the coming winter? My sunniest room in winter is the kitchen. So last winter the tree sat on the kitchen floor right next to the door to the back yard. I had to move it to get into the large pantry cabinet and walk carefully around it going in and out. And every day that was warm and sunny, I lugged the tree out to the deck for an even better dose of sun. Ta dah! This time the blossoms didn’t drop, the nubs formed and this summer on the deck they turned into respectable lemons, green at first, taking along time, (months) to become yellow. I got a total of 12 lemons! 


The tree is now back in the kitchen and some little white buds are appearing, next to the 6 lemons still on the tree. It makes a great meringue pie and a wonderful lemon custard. 


So I am back to sharing my small kitchen with my small tree. It is only 3 feet tall, but 3 ½ feet wide. It takes up important space, but I am so proud of it, so happy with the blossoms and lemons. There is a certain amount of inconvenience incurred because of the placement of the tree in winter. It was a lot better for traffic when it occupied a north facing window in my living room. Kate, my cat, scuttles under it to get out the door. Humans have to walk around it and I have to move it from the front of my pantry cabinet whenever I need a roasting pan or serving platter, but hey, small potatoes. My little tree is producing and giving me that delicious smell. So what if its in the kitchen and not the living room as I had hoped. Plants are a little like children. They insist on doing it their way.




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