One of the joys of a garden is the opportunity it provides for you to create your own backyard grocery store stocked with delicious, fresh fruit. You can grow almost any fruit that you enjoy, climate and soil permitting. Fruit trees are not difficult to cultivate, and they reward you with an amazing bounty when you pay attention to their needs.
From the Mediterranean
Figs (Ficus carica) are the pride of the Mediterranean, where they have a history of more than 5,000 years. At such a venerable age, it is not surprising that the fig comes in a wide range of cultivars, all of which are members of the Moraceae or mulberry family. For example, brown turkey is a popular choice in the southeastern United States, while Kadota figs and mission figs do especially well in the Southwest. Fresh figs do not have a long shelf life after they ripen, so enjoy them in your summer fruit salads or make jam for a delicious spread with your toast. Figs also make wonderful dried fruit.
New Year Tradition
The peach blossom tree (Prunus persica) is traditionally a tree of celebration in Chinese communities, where it is central to the lunar new year in January or February. Peach blossom trees sell in flower fairs in the weeks leading up to the new year. When the delicate pink blossoms open during the start of the new year, it is symbolic of a lucky and prosperous year ahead. Some peach blossom tree cultivars flower in red or white and produce delicious summer peaches, but it is the trees with pink blossoms that denote lunar new year blessings.
The apricot tree (Prunus armeniaca) arrived in England from Italy during the reign of King Henry VIII (1509 to 1547). King Henry was undoubtedly a discerning gourmand whose extensive kitchens at Hampton Court Palace, for example, produced the finest cuisine. The appearance of clusters of pinkish white blooms on this graceful tree signals a crop of apricots to come, usually between May and July depending on the variety and the region. Enjoy apricots fresh or as jams.
You can literally make lemonade anytime you like when you have your own lemon tree (Citrus limon). There's also something to be said for a slice of lemon in your tea or water, and fresh lemon cake. The lemon tree is also pretty, usually with fragrant white flowers and vibrant green leaves. Regular pruning benefits this evergreen, as does a location in full sun and with good drainage.
The strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) makes an attractive landscape addition, with showy pink or white flowers developing in panticles and bright red fruit. True to its native Mediterranean roots, this drought tolerant tree thrives in full sun and well-drained soil.