Although Orchards have been available in Farmville for some time now, it is only recently that I discovered how addictive the option can be. Unlike Fantasy Kingdoms, which is highly fanciful in terms of Crops and Trees, the Crops and Trees in Farmville are divided sharply into two very distinct categories. There are real Crops and Trees and fantasy Crops and Tree. Oddly enough, despite my love of fantasy, I initially was predisposed to shun the fantasy Crops and Trees in Farmville. I wanted to grow real Crops and create a landscape that was realistic...
There was another consideration here, which was the fact that all fantasy Trees require a Farm Cash investment unless you find one on the feed. This is where the Orchard becomes vital. By placing Trees in an Orchard, a player has a chance of creating a 'Mystery Seedling'. Eight Watering Cans are required to grow a Mystery Seedling after it is placed. You cannot be certain of the identity of the Seedling until you have used the eighth Watering Can. The grown Tree then can be shared with one other player. You either can publish to all friends, all friends of friends, Every one or publish the offer to specific players.
An Orchard can contain a total of twenty Trees. They can be mixed or can consist of Trees of a single variety. When harvested, an Orchard can yield either Watering Cans or a Mystery Seedling as well as coins in every case. Mystery Seedlings can be shared with other players but, unlike an adult Tree produced from a Seedling, can be shared with at least three other players.
Any player who does not own a Fantasy Tree therefore can obtain one either by taking a grown Tree from the Feed or by taking a Mystery Seedling shared by another player. Although an Orchard filled with Fantasy Trees has a better chance of creating Mystery Seedlings that will grow into a Fantasy Tree, it evidently is not guaranteed.
Mystery Seedlings moreover will stack in your Gift Box. If, therefore, you take a number of Mystery Seedlings instead of taking only one and growing it into maturity before you take another, it is almost impossible to judge what will occur when you plant a Mystery Seedling from your stack.
There is a certain rhythm to the process of harvesting and growing Trees. When you harvest an Orchard, you will receive coins and a Mystery Seedling or Coins and a Watering Can. You then have an option to share the Seedling/Watering Can with friends. This places either a Watering Can or a Mystery Seedling on the feed for others to use.
When you plant a Mystery Seedling, you will have the option to publish the fact. There really is no benefit to this, apart from alerting other players to the fact that you are beginning the process of growing one. After you use the fourth Watering Can, however, you will have the option of sharing Watering Cans. This places Watering Cans on the feed for other players. When you have used the eighth Watering Can, the adult Tree will materialise. You then have the option of sharing this Tree with one Friend.
In other words, for every Mystery Seedling you grow, you have an opportunity of sharing Watering Cans with four other players. If your Neighbours harvest their Orchards regularly, it is possible to maintain a fairly decent supply of Watering Cans as well as Mystery Seedlings from the Feed as well as your own Orchards.
Tree Mastery as well as Crop Mastery exists now in Farmville but unlike Crop Mastery, which gives a player additional Bushels, Tree Mastery evidently will not increase your chances of obtaining Mystery Seedlings.
An Orchard frame costs 1000 Coins and requires 10 Bricks, 10 Boards and 10 Nails to complete. A completed Orchard can be purchased for 30 Farm Cash. There is a limit to the number of Orchard frames a player can purchase. This appears to be six. There may be no limit to the number of completed Orchards a player can purchase.
Perhaps some one will correct me on this point, but it is my experience and the experience of other players with whom I have spoken on the topic. 'Mystery Seedlings' ARE mysterious!