I love this imagery and the following one. A mother orchard is not necessarily old, but a collection of specimen trees for the purposes of preservation and propagation. It ensures a future of diversity and quality.
When the trees were first planted at Cotehele, Cornwall around 2010, they had their branches tied down as they were being trained into a delayed open goblet shape. What an inspiring image and metaphor. As someone who has 2 old apple trees,I know first hand how much wise pruning maintenance they need to grow properly.
Jesus uses many nature images in His parables, some seem direct and blunt. Pruning and training can seem harsh to the uninitiated. But I can vouch that if you leave apple trees to their own devices, they will grow but not in a way to produce quality fruit, let alone accessible. Discipleship should be gracious and kind, but left on our own, without help and sometimes direction, we will not produce all the quality and quantity of fruit we have the potential to.