I first fell in love with the idea of having a fruit tree back when we lived in suburban Clearwater. The yards were quite small, and several of our neighbors had citrus trees with boughs that hung over the fence into our yard. In early winter, the scent of the blossoms was heady and intoxicating. A few months later, the landscape was dotted with lemons, grapefruit and oranges. It was miraculous. I didn’t plant a tree in our little yard then, but the seed of desire had been sown.
When we moved to Cowlick Cottage Farm, I spent the first couple of years building my vegetable garden, and a few years ago planted a fig tree, and my love affair with fruit trees was born. Figs are not only beautiful in the garden, they are pretty in the kitchen, too! Figs are a great tree to start with, as they begin to produce fruit quickly.
My next addition was a bareroot Sungold nectarine that I bought at a local nursery for about $12. This will be its third season—usually the year that fruit trees start to produce a true crop. The hardest part about growing most fruit trees is patience. It takes a few years for them to really get going. Last year I had one perfect nectarine that I ate straight off the tree. Perfectly ripe and juicy, I don’t think I will ever forget how good it tasted. Right now my little tree is covered in beautiful pink blossoms that have the bumblebees buzzing with joy.
I have continued to add various trees to our landscape—a few each year. We now have a little orchard! Here’s what is growing:
Meyer Lemon – My favorite lemon!
Ponderosa Lemon (HUGE lemons—some weigh up to nine pounds and one fruit can make a big batch of lemonade!)
Alma and Celeste Figs
Eustis Limequat – A cross between kumquat and key lime. It tastes like key lime, but is more cold tolerant. It produces fruit year-round.
Owari Satsuma – A cross between Mandarin orange and tangerine
Hurado Butan Pink Pummelo – The largest of the citrus fruits, it tastes similar to grapefruit.
Christmas Loquat – A beautiful tropical-looking evergreen tree that produces fruit that tastes like apricot. The flowers have a luscious scent.
Arebquina Olive – Olive trees are gorgeous, with feathery silver leaves. This is a little Spanish olive.
Shinseiki Asian Pear – Asian pears are crispy like apples, but taste like sweet pear.
Maekawa-Jiro non-astringent persimmon – An exotic ornamental with gorgeous red-orange fruit.
Russian #8 Pomegranate
Fruit trees are wonderful additions to your landscape for a number of reasons. First of all, fresh organic fruit from your garden tastes far and away better than anything purchased in a grocery store. Second, you can grow varieties that cannot be found at the store or that are too expensive to buy. And from the glossy evergreen leaves of citrus trees, to the heady perfume of the loquat blossom, to the gorgeous fall color of persimmon, fruit trees add beauty to your landscape all year. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t require a lot of special care. But be careful, they are addictive. You can’t grow just one.