When I bought Scarlet Sentinel, it was marketed as a “columnar” tree, a single pole without any branches that would bear apples. It turns out you have to prune it to produce this habit, so I let ours do what it wants. The result is this tree, still quite compact with short, stocky branches. In our climate it seemed to top out around 6 feet tall.
It spent the first couple years in a black nursery pot in the middle of the yard, and the soil temperature must have hit 120 degrees in the hot sun. Neither this nor the 113 degree summer days seemed to phase it, and it is still very productive, giving two crops annually. This is the second crop that ripened around Christmas, as we’re still occasionally munching on them as we pass by the tree (they remind me of little Christmas Ornaments.
This is how the apples look for the early fall harvest. They’re very aromatic, sweet, crisp, and juicy. They’d probably get bigger if I thinned them out some, as the tree overbears. It also blossoms very late, well after the leaves come out on the tree and you’re just about to think you won’t get anything that year.
I first passed off the columnar business as a gimmic and didn’t have high hopes for fruit quality. However its grace in the heat, decent flavor, and productivity have won me over and I endorse it for someone without much room. It is pretty trouble-free; bugs and disease don’t seem to both it. It would be good for windy areas as there’s not much to catch the wind, and the tree is very sturdy. It is still patented so I don’t offer it from my nursery, but it is readily available online.