Everyone should be so lucky to live near a citrus grove. This is the first week of April and Iâ€™ve got to tell you the fragrance is heavenly. Our condo complex is about two blocks from the grove, and when the wind is blowing our way we have the good fortune to be blessed with this wonderful scent. To visit a citrus grove this time of year is just breathtaking. The orange trees are in bloom and, if Mr. Wetzler, or Will, as he likes to be called, pulls one of his priceless blossoms and gives it to you, you are one lucky person. Each one of these pretty little flowers becomes an orange, a prized piece of fruit.
Years ago, spring brides loved to have orange blossom weddings, but eventually the blossoms became too expensive to use. The cost was not just high for the bride, but also for the citrus grower who lost an orange each time a blossom was cut from his tree. The traditional orange blossom wedding soon became a thing of the past.
The grove is aptly named â€œThe 51st Street Groveâ€ as the address is 51st Street, West, Bradenton, Florida. The Wetzler family has been purveyors of quality fruit for over 45 years. The grove is small compared to what it was years ago, but still supplies the people of Bradenton, and our many tourists, with plenty of fruit for the season.
Last week I took my granddaughter, Melanie Hood and her friend Lucy Millsap a budding photographer, to the grove with camera in tow. What fun we had! Mr. Wetzler was kind enough to let Lucy take tons of pictures in the citrus grove. Some of the trees were still bearing fruit, while others were starting to bloom for next yearsâ€™ crop. We all took turns posing for pictures, pulling fruit and, of course, eating fruit. Mr. Wetzler also posed for Lucy, and she snapped some great photos of him in front of a tree still loaded with oranges.Â I will post some of the pictures on Facebook for all to see.
My husband & I have been residents of Bradenton since we retired in 2003. We have purchased our citrus at the Wetzler grove for eight years and still, year after year, we have never tasted better oranges and grapefruit. Will opens his grove to the public around the middle of January and stays open until mid April. Our visit to the â€œ51st Street Groveâ€ was a fun experience, and the girls agreed it was something they would definitely want to do again.