Persimmon trees are the ultimate carefree edible landscaping tree. Large enough to shade windows and attractive in leaf all summer, persimmons star in the late fall landscape. Foliage turns golden, and the tree is adorned with bright orange fruit that holds into winter. Hachiya persimmons are sweet while they are still crisp. Coffee Cake persimmons ripen earlier than Hachiya and have tantalizing cinnamon-color flesh.
Fig trees are trouble-free and reward a grower with syrupy sweet fruit that rivals the best jam. Figs revel in heat, and they thrive in locations that would scorch many fruit trees. A south or west-facing wall is an ideal location. Pruning can restrain fig trees to the size of large shrubs, or let them grow and shade the sunny side of the house. Black Jack is a natural dwarf tree that produces huge dark-skinned figs. A tree planted this spring can have fruit in the fall.
Apple and pear trees are a bit more fussy about growing conditions. They appreciate morning sun in the Santa Clara Valley, and they do not want as much heat as fig trees. Years ago, I made the mistake of planting apple trees along the west side of my house. The trees shaded the windows from the afternoon sun, cooling the house. Unfortunately, the apples dried on the trees. Fig were much happier in that location.
Pink Pearl apples are a delightful surprise with pink flesh that is perfect for applesauce or an eye-catching apple pie. Hundreds of apple varieties are available for edible landscapes. A trip to Gizdich Ranch will provide an introduction to some of the varieties that grow well in California. Be sure to take a healthy appetite when visiting Gizdich. Their apple pie is fantastic!
The heady aroma of ripe pears entices as much as their delicate flavors. Fruit are harvested firm, and they finish ripening off the tree. Warren is juicy and buttery with superb flavor. Seckel is sweet, aromatic, and spicy. It is a connoisseur’s favorite.
Photo of Pink Pearl apple: from Flikr Creative Commons.