A Gift to Remember

Blossom from Sir Isaac Newton's Apple Tree graft.  (Photo (c) Hilda M. Morrill)
Blossom from Sir Isaac Newton’s Apple Tree graft. (Photo (c) Hilda M. Morrill)

Through the years I’ve received hundreds of gift plants from friends and family members. Each was treasured, either as a houseplant or an outdoor garden specimen. Some have grown and flourished and sadly, some died off. And then, there are those that have been “rascally” and have tried “to take over the world,” such as the Aegopodium. But, that’s another story.

None has been so historic as the apple tree graft I received from my wonderful brother-in-law, Marty. A volunteer coach at Babson College in Wellesley, MA, he was presented with the graft in appreciation for his services. Not having a proper spot to plant it in their yard, he and my sister gave it to me.

According to Marty, Roger Babson (the founder of Babson College) was fascinated with Isaac Newton and his theory of relativity. Mrs. Babson somehow procured a graft of one of the original tree’s descendants, which has thrived on the Babson campus since the school was founded. The college had a tree company produce grafts to share.

Marty received the following write-up (partial) with his graft:

“Compelled by the Black Plague to flee London in 1665 and return to his family’s small Manor at Woolsthorpe in Lincolnshire, Sir Isaac became the world’s most famous victim of a falling apple. A pale silvery-green dull-red-striped ugly lop-sided coarse-textured tart cooking apple fell and struck him on the head. Either the sight of the falling fruit or perhaps the whack itself prompted Newton to describe the Universal Law of Gravitation.

“When Roger W. Babson founded Babson College in Wellesley, MA, he arranged to have a grafted Isaac Newton tree planted at the college in April of 1954. The old naturally semi-dwarf specimen still stands surrounded by a green iron fence, labeled with a bronze plaque. The apple is said to produce a ‘sweet, delicately flavoured puree.’

“Fedco Trees obtained scionwood from the Babson tree and grafted this tree for you.”

I’m so honored to be the lucky recipient of such a piece of history via my brother-in-law. I hope I don’t kill it as I’ve done with so many other plants in the past. I’ve already broken the main stem by accident but am still able to enjoy some beautiful blossoms this spring and will have the photos afterwards.

Still in its original pot, our Sir Isaac Newton Apple Tree awaits planting in our yard. And, I may even get over to Babson College to visit their tree.

Here’s hoping!