Gardening is one of those enterprises where you always have some successes and some failures. One of this years successes was the first crop of apples from a relatively new tree of a relatively new variety, a Nova Spy. As the name suggests this is a new variety of dwarf apple tree that supposedly captures the singular apple quality of the Northern Spy, an apple of some renown for more than a century. So it was with considerable anticipation that the first apples produced by our three-year-old tree were harvested, and how nice it is to report that the apples are true to form, largish somewhat irregular in shape and green with streaky red, very recognizable as a spy, and it has the spy flavor, that sweet tart taste with all sorts of fruity highlights. How fantastic that this new variety seems to have solved the spy problems of being big, slow-growing, full-sized, slow to bear trees as the only source of a superior apple, so maybe this excellent apple will become more popular again, and more avidly sought by people other than a few apple fanciers. But in the negative column on the same day as the apples were harvested, a 3-yr-old Japanese maple up and wilted, a nearly certain sign, given the time of year, of verticillium wilt, and the consequent death of the tree. A redbud died a couple of weeks earlier in a similar manner. So that's the long and short of it.