Well, I've been busy -- and I thought I might have missed the opportunity to buy the apple trees this spring and might have to wait until fall instead. Imagine my chagrin as I turned to this task, only to find that nursery after nursery had "closed fruit tree orders for the season." Apparently, they stop shipping them once they begin budding and blooming (makes sense in retrospect). However, after doing some research in a recommended book, The Apple Grower, I discovered an organic nursery in Waterville, Maine, called Fedco, that is having an in-person sale for the public May 7th & 8th. There are no promises about which apple trees are left, but I am thrilled that I may not need to wait. The drive should take about 3 1/2 hours from Boston each way, so it will definitely be a road trip.
Fedco's website has a great pdf guide describing how to plant and prune, as well as giving descriptions of all of their nursery stock. I've reviewed the list and pre-selected some apple trees that I think might work. I'm planning to go and see if any of these are available. Some of the trees produce apples in the summer, some in the fall, and others in the "winter." The latter are supposed to be the "keepers" (some can still be eaten in April) while the summer ones tend to be softer and only keep for a few weeks. Apparently there are dessert apples, cooking apples and cider apples -- and different apples make very different types of apple sauce (who knew?).
Here's Fedco Co-op Garden Supplies -- check it out. http://www.fedcoseeds.com/trees/treesweb_links.htm