Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Phig Grows in Philly

I always thought figs were difficult to grow even in central VA, and was surprised years ago when I saw them at Monticello. I then learned that people went through great lengths to grow them up north, using elaborate methods to shield them from cold, from building temporary winter structures for them to actually tipping the plants over into the soil over winter! My figs have been very easy to grow and care for (see my very first entry on this blog). Two weekends ago we went to Philadelphia (an underrated city- I enjoyed it very much) and stayed in the Italian Market District (great food). First, I visited Bartram's Garden again and saw the fig they have growing there-the first time I saw it two years ago, I was astonished it grew so well so far north. And then, on this trip, I saw what is in the photo above: two huge fig trees growing against a building near the Italian Market. Italian and Greek immigrants brought figs to the US in great numbers and I suspect one of them brought these. The plants are in a sheltered location, get protection and radiant heat from the brick building and look quiet happy, with huge figs on them already! Unfortunately, one photo we neglected to take was a volunteer fig growing out of a crack in the pavement. Indeed, on the visit to Philly, I saw several such figs, entwined in fences, next to other trees or growing where no one would plant them. I think figs are tougher than their reputation and I highly recommend them!
One more note: Edible landscaping in Afton , VA has many varieties of figs, including the most cold tolerant, the Chicago fig.
Happy gardening!


Danielle Meitiv said...

The four mature fig trees in my garden in silver Spring, MD were definitely big selling points when I was house-hunting four years ago.

They were planted by the Italian couple who built the house - I believe at least one came over from Italy - and have since given rise to dozens of trees throughout our neighbor via cuttings.

I truly dislike dried figs, but fresh ones - amazing!

I had no idea they could go as far north as Philly.


Judy Thomas said...

Dried figs and fresh figs seem to be two different species!