What a joy to bring you a story of a father’s tree, a crabapple crafted for home gardening, a sweet story for the Lord’s glory. Lollipop® Crabapple, a Proven Winners® ColorChoice® Ornamental Tree, has a special history. While its branches are enveloped in white blossoms in spring, bearing modest, red mini-fruits in fall, the tree’s true gift is a behind-the-scenery bounty of faith and love from father to child.
Jim Zampini (1932-2017) is the one who brought the Lollipop® to life. He was a devoted leader in the horticulture industry, at the helm of one of the largest wholesale nurseries in the country for many years. Additionally, he had a passion for bringing new plants to market, and his heart was huge for the Lord Jesus. His Savior’s love poured out to those around him, and in his later years, he worked with his daughter, forming a horticultural marketing firm. They are a true expression of the blessing foretold in Malachi:
And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers Malachi 4:6 CSB
Malachi’s prophecy tells of a precious sign to watch for as times progress toward the Day of the Lord: Hearts together, a fresh respect, endearment, fondness, and newfound vitality for working relationships between fathers and their children. Wherever I see this taking place, I rejoice! That means we are one family closer to the “Big Day of God,” as The Message translates.
I am grateful to get to know Mr. Zampini’s daughter, Maria, and their treasured bond of father and child has blessed so many of us in the garden communications community. Maria has carried on the work since her father’s passing in 2017, and now partners with Spring Meadow Nursery to manage the ornamental tree program for Proven Winners® ColorChoice®, which oversees production of the Lollipop® tree as it makes its way to garden retailers throughout America.
Maria and her father consider Lollipop® crabapple their “miracle tree.” One Sunday after church when Maria was a little girl, Mr. Zampini was moved to go out and walk his nursery grounds; various crabapples that he had propagated were planted beside a pond, and made for a restful, refreshing place to enjoy the day.
Upon arriving, he discovered that his saplings had been wacked by a neglectful nurseryman clearing the land with tractor and brush hog mower. The spindly trunks laid over to the ground, severed and exposed to sun and wind for nearly a day. Disaster!
Maria remembers her father bursting hurriedly into the house to grab Saran wrap and rubber bands and tagging along with him back to the property to rescue the trial trees. Young Maria watched as he tried all sorts of grafting methods, securing wood from the mother trees and grafting to new crabapple rootstocks. The Lollipop® was the only one of its kind at the time, teetering on the verge of being lost. Worse, it was not the right season for grafting…so they prayed and hoped…and waited…and the graft worked!
And so, the Lollipop® survived—a miracle they shared together. Over many more seasons, Mr. Zampini cultivated and propagated this special crabapple, and the tree thrived, helping to produce more of its kind. It was the first crabapple bred for diminutive size and compact canopy, aptly named for its spherical shape with a touch of whimsy for this “Pop,” a beloved Papa to his family and to so many in the industry and his Ohio community. His name is memorialized in the botanical name for the tree, Malus X ‘Lollizam’.
Try this Garden Design
This hybrid does not produce a ton of fruit, but it makes up much appeal with extraordinary fragrance when it blooms. Plant among cedars, junipers, cypress, pines, or fir trees to create a vignette of Song of Songs 2:3. The Passion Translation adds the dimension of apple’s aroma; similarly so does the Lollipop®, and I imagine Mr. Zampini so pleased at his tree’s reflection of God’s Word.
My beloved is to me the most fragrant apple tree Song of Songs 2:3 TPT
Let the various translations deepen your experience of God’s beauty in the trees:
Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among young men. To sit in his shadow is my delight Song of Songs 2:3 NCB
Among the ·young men [boys], my lover is like an apple tree ·in the woods [Lamong the trees of the forest; Che is extraordinary; the apple tree is fruitful and pleasant smelling]! Song of Songs 2:3 EXB
Our tree was delivered in a five gallon pot, so we have a few years to wait for a full spread of blossom-brilliance and fragrance wafting through the front door. Yet waiting and watching are part of the story.
The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, because I am watching to make sure my words come true.” Jeremiah 1:12 NCV
You provided me with life and mercy, and your watchful care has guarded my spirit. Job 10:12 EHV
Great Apple vs. Apricot Debate
If you are a regular reader at Garden in Delight, or have enjoyed My Father is the Gardener, Devotions in Botany and Gardening of the Bible, you are familiar with the “great apple vs. apricot debate.” That is, are apple trees acurately the trees referenced in the Bible in these Scriptures?
Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am faint with love. Song of Songs 2:5 NIV
Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word appropriately spoken. Proverbs 25:11 CJB …and that your breath is the aroma of apples. Song of Songs 7:8 CEV
The vines have withered, the fig trees wilted, also the pomegranate, date-palm and apple tree — all the trees in the fields have withered, and the people’s joy has withered away. Joel 1:12 CJB
As chronicled in my books and blogs, while apples are more common to those who would be reading an English translation of the Bible, apricots are a better botanical fit for the land of the Bible. Apples require more chilling hours than the Holy Land likely provides, and apricots are bit better at enduring a hot summer with little water. However, if God did call upon apple trees for his imagery, the crabapple is generally considered the ancestor of all cultivated apples.
Does God’s Word intend an apple or an apricot? Since there is no mention with regard to their seed, which would crack the case on this botanical mystery, the apricot being a stone fruit like peaches and plums, and the apple being a pome fruit like pears and figs, let’s assume that God has something for us in the apparent mistranslation into English as “apple.”Shelley S. Cramm, My Father is the Gardener, page 147
Keep reading and find fall recipes at The Great Apple-Apricot Debate and Strengthen Me with Raisins, Refresh Me with Apples from the Devotions Blog
A Father’s Tree
With the special history of this tree tucked in our hearts, let us sit cozy with some sweet expressions of our Father’s love, a love to be imparted from our heavenly Father through our earthly fathers.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him Psalm 103:13 NIV
The Father rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves Colossians 1:13 EHV
The Lord All-Powerful says, “They belong to me; on that day they will be my very own. As a parent shows mercy to his child who serves him, I will show mercy to my people. Malachi 3:17 NCV
The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. Psalm 103:13 NLT
In his holy dwelling, God is a father for the fatherless and a judge who defends widows. Psalm 68:5 EHV
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah! He is our merciful Father and the God of all comfort 2 Corinthians 1:3 ISV
Then the Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed: Yahweh—Yahweh is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving wrongdoing, rebellion, and sin. Exodus 34:6-7 HCSB
Just as my Father has loved me, I too have loved you; so stay in my love. John 15:9 CJB
Then if you know how to give good gifts to your children, even though you are evil, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Mather 7:11 EHV
for the Father himself loves you John 16:27 CJB
So he got up and went to his father. While he was still far away, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, threw his arms around him, and kissed him affectionately. Luke 15:20 ISV
See what love the Father has lavished on us in letting us be called God’s children! For that is what we are. 1 John 3:1 CJB
O Father, it is so good to call you Father! Thank you for Your everlasting love and Your constant watch over me. Even as Your Word says to refresh with apples (or apricots!), let me be revived in Your love and remember that I am held close to your heart in grace and affection. Knowing this, let the worries of my life fade away! Let me understand more fully that I am “grafted in” to You (Romans 11:17) and help me to dig deeper and more consistently into the rich network of refreshment that is Your Word and all Your stories. You want me close to You, so that my joy never withers away (Joel 1:12). May the full blessing of hearts of fathers turned to their children, and hearts of children turned to their fathers bless and define our nation and the world. Amen.
For more information, visit Proven Winners® Lollipop® Crabapple or go to www.provenwinners.com/plants/malus/lollipop-crabapple-malus-x
Many thanks to Maria Zampini for years of friendship and leadership. Find out more about Maria and her father at Upshoot LLC
Enjoy Shelley’s latest book, My Father is the Gardener, which digs into the plants, gardening, and landscapes of the Bible, unearthing inspiration in the routine ways of caring for plants and keeping a garden. Apple & Apricot Trees are featured in Chapter 11. Now available at BRIT Press, Powell’s Bookstore, and Amazon. Click to order: www.gardenindelight.com/books/my-father-is-the-gardener/
For a devotion on the symbolism of apples in Scripture, see “A Word Apple-ly Spoken,” from the Garden Work series on Pruning in God’s Word for Gardeners Bible, page 737
Discover study questions from A Gardener’s Promise series for “Pruning & Apple & Apricot Trees,” Chapter 11 of My Father is the Gardener in the Devotions Blog at this link
Photo Credits: ©Maria Zampini, photo of her father, Jim Zampini, and his copy of God’s Word for Gardeners Bible; Lollipop® Crabapple photos courtesy of Spring Meadow Nursery and Proven Winners® website; cover photo and “selfie” taken in our front yard in Irving, TX
CEV CEV notes Scripture quotations taken from the Contemporary English Version Copyright © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.
CJB notes Scripture quotations taken from the Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Messianic Jewish Publishers, 6120 Day Long Lane, Clarksville, MD 21029. www.messianicjewish.net.
CSB notes Scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
EHV notes Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® , EHV®, © 2019 Wartburg Project, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
EXB denotes Scripture quotations taken from The Expanded Bible. Copyright ©2011 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
HCSB denotes Scripture quotations taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
ISV denotes Scripture quotations from The Holy Bible: International Standard Version. Release 2.0, Build 2015.02.09. Copyright © 1995-2014 by ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission of Davidson Press, LLC.
NCB denotes Scripture taken from the SAINT JOSEPH NEW CATHOLIC BIBLE® Copyright © 2019 by Catholic Book Publishing Corp. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
NCV denotes Scripture quotations taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
NIV denotes Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.®
NLT denotes Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
TPT denotes Scripture quotations taken from The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017, 2018, 2020 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ThePassionTranslation.com