Glad to be here. Had been at the GW forums - almost daily - since back around 1996; don't care for the 'new' incarnation, but will probably continue to check in there from time to time, just out of habit. Thanks, Scott, and thanks E, for inviting me over.
Grew up in UCLA(upper corner of Lower Alabama) - Lee Co., just outside of 'the loveliest village on the plains', Auburn. Was always involved with the family garden, and my dad was an avid collector and propagator of azaleas and camellias - my initial introduction to plant propagation. Never really delved into fruits/nuts there - home was in the middle of an early 1900s era pecan orchard(mostly Stuart & Mahan), there was an old Keiffer pear, and some seedling apples & peaches growing in the fencerows around the garden and barnlot, Dad had a big blueberry patch, but that was about it, other than some pomegranates I started from cuttings when I was 8.
Got my BS(microbiology) and DVM from AU, married a vet school classmate, and moved to southern middle TN(Giles Co.). Veterinary practice, a growing young family, and a small 180 ac. farm with beef cattle didn't really allow for any horticultural pursuits. Left practice for a pathology residency at UofMO, where I discovered bur oaks (Q.macrocarpa). Landed here in southern west-central KY, about 70 mi NW of Nashville TN, 21 years ago.
Immediately started planting an orchard - apples,peaches,plums, blueberries, kiwis, mulberries,cherries. Active involvement with the 4 kids, community, job, and re-building this farm(190ac) from the ground up relegated me to mostly planting and neglecting most of the fruit trees - it was a 'make it on your own or die' proposition for them.
Wife got me into pecans - I didn't know at that time that they'd grow here - and I'm sure she regrets it to this day, 'cause I quickly became an obsessive collector of pecans, hickories, walnuts, and oaks. That said, I'll readily admit that I'm a 'hell of a propagator, but a p___-poor caretaker. Along the way, mulberries, pears, and persimmons became part of the collection obsession deal for me. Have a sizeable planting of rabbiteye & Southern highbush blueberries, a few blackberries, raspberries, juneberries.
Have abandoned all but a handful of apples/crabs, choosing to concentrate primarily on nut trees, pears, and persimmons. Have over 30 varieties each of pecan, pear, persimmon...but, due to poor record keeping (and hooved rats eating aluminum labels)...definitive IDs have been lost on a lot of them.
Kids are all grown and gone from home now... so maybe I'll have more time available for orcharding pursuits.