Relegated to the back of our memories during the past dismal summers and severe winters, a Fig tree has cropped well this year. A handsome specimen, Ficus carica, is on a south west wall it has produced a crop in this warm dry season. Though the fruit may not be as plump as those bought in a Turkish market.
For latitude 55 degrees north, on a par with Moscow, it illustrates what a favourable microclimate can produce from a species native to the Middle East.
A much branched deciduous wall shrub with us, reaching 5 metres in height and more than this in spread. The foliage is deeply lobed and large, 250m x 250mm. The immature figs are held tight in the leaf axils of this year’s and the previous year’s growth. Individual flowers are held within what becomes the skin of the fruit and are all female. On ripening the stalk elongates and the fruit adopts a hanging position.
We now rely on a temperate winter allowing the immature flower buds to survive the cold and wet then swell to maturity in late summer 2014.
In warmer climates two or three crops are possible through the year. We must consider ourselves lucky to pick fresh figs as they do not travel well and grown commercially, the majority are dried then sent to market.