An Extraordinary Heirloom Gift

Heartfelt thanks to our friends and fellow heirloom fruit enthusiasts Timothy and Sherryl Philen.

Upon retiring from their five-acre homestead, Philen Pharms, which grew heirloom fruits for The Four Seasons Hotels, they gifted Trees Of Antiquity with their fascinating collection of rare horticulture books.

The collection contains original hardcover editions of fruit growing manuals and encyclopedias, ranging from 1830s New England farming newsletters, to such classics as A.J. Downing’s The Fruit and Fruit Trees of America, to first edition copies of S.A. Beach’s The Apples of New York, featuring beautifully preserved color plates by famed illustrator William Hooker.

Tim and Sherryl began growing fruit trees in 2000 on a rural property they purchased in Thousand Oaks, California. Unbeknownst to these natives of that sunny and warm southern part of the state, however, they were situated in an unusually cold microclimate. Their newly planted avocado and citrus trees withered away that first winter, with temperatures dropping as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit during December.

Saddened but undeterred, they searched the internet for answers and ended up finding the website of our founding nursery, Sonoma Antique Apple Nursery. After speaking extensively with Terry and Carolyn Harrison, they were convinced that growing high-chill heirloom fruits would be an exciting — and for Southern California — unique experience for them and their four young children.

From that first order of twenty-five trees, Philen Pharms grew to 636 trees and grapevines, and Tim grew into what he dubbed an “heirloom fruit evangelist,” speaking to the faithful at such special events as the annual Festival of Fruit in Palo Alto, California.

We look forward to preserving all of the horticultural history and timeless wisdom contained in this wonderful new addition to our Trees Of Antiquity reference library.