Sunday, May 23, 2010

Trees of Antiquity - Joe Morle's Figs

Fig Trees
This morning, Marc and I took Jonathan to Boston's Franklin Park Zoo. We were first through the gates when they opened and probably the first ones to leave as well. It was a beautiful day to be outside, but as some of you may know, the attention span of a two and a half year old only goes so far. And to be honest (though I hate to admit this), I was actually more excited to get to our second and final destination of the day.

I happened upon Joe Morle's website by chance a few months ago when I was browsing for information on how to grow fig trees and was very excited to find out that his shop, City Farm Florist and Nursery, was not only located in Massachusetts, but also within a short driving distance from the zoo (and coincidentally, a couple of miles from where Marc and I used to live).

For those of you not from Boston, Franklin Park is located in a section of the city that could be considered barren in more ways than one. Decades of crime and economic depression have really taken a toll on this neighborhood. The funny thing is, you would never know this when stepping into Joe's shop - a hidden Eden tucked deep within a vastly gray urban landscape.

I had come to Joe's shop for one reason only - to purchase a couple of his famous fig trees. And when he took me out back to where they were located, it was like Christmas morning. There must have been hundreds of them. To say that they were perfectly green and lush would be an understatement. Here is a man who truly knows his fig trees. Without hesitation, I asked Joe to select for me two of his favorite varieties.

Fig Tree 2
The first one he picked out was "Paradiso," aka "Genova". Here is how he describes this variety on his website:

The name Paradiso Fig originated from a tale about an old man in Italy that sat under his fig tree every morning eating figs and bread for breakfast. People passing would ask him if he was alright and his reply was, "This is my Paradise (Paradiso)." Genova Fig originates from the Northern Mediterranean, in Genova City. This plant yields an abundant amount of large fruit. The first crop is a fist size fruit, long shaped with white/golden skin and pink flesh. It is very sweet and juicy. Leaves are shaped like the palm of a hand. This plant bears two crops in August and September, Lowest zone is 5 and 6.

Fig Tree 3
He then chose a brown fig variety called "Black Triana", which also fruits twice a year. After a pleasant conservation with several members of the Morle family, I left City Farm with two new fruit trees to add to my growing collection, a bag of Joe's special fertilizer mix and a grin on my face that stretched from ear to ear.

There is just something so very mystical and infinite about a fig tree. For more information on how to grow and care for potted fig trees, check out Joe's website.


  1. Oh, you are going to love having your own fig trees--you're right, there is something mystical about them. And, their architecture is gorgeous as they grow.

  2. I love eating figs. We have a fig tree (don’t know exact variety). It grows fruit twice a year. Mostly wasps get to it before we do. So there is rarely something to actually eat.
    My fig tree grows next to a south facing white wall, so there is maximum of heat and sun.

  3. I love the fig tree name story! I also LOVE the shape of fig tree leaves, I only have one tree in a container, but just love looking at it....!

  4. Oh, he is THE fig man! I have wanted to go there for years, it must have been incredible!! Great score Thomas, enjoy your beautiful figs!!

  5. Wonderful plants and lucky you to be able to visit in person and have him pick out the plants for you.

  6. I got figs this year too - three of them. I'm pretty excited about the new additions. By the way, I have an Italian friend who joined the seminary many, many years ago while a young man in Italy. He told me that when figs were in season, that's what they had for breakfast - ripe figs, and bread, but unlike the man in your story, they also had a little olive oil on the bread. He described those meals rapturously.

  7. All I can say is, "Yum, figs!"

  8. I can grow figs in Massachusetts? Dang I have to get a fig tree for the new house. Are figs self fertile or do you need two figs?

  9. Daphne, I believe they are self fertile. They are borderline hardy in our climate (odds are better when wrapped in burlap and straw during the winter months) but I will grow mine in pots and overwinter them in the garage. I guess they need zero light when they are dormant.

  10. Thomas, your adventures in gardening read to me like the Chronicles of Narnia! Thank you for telling this one, I love the adventure from the Zoo to the city farm and can so imagine the whole day...

    take care,


  11. I am not a religious man, but the below quote from the old testament sticks out in my mind whenever the subject of Fig Tree's is brought up:
    “And every man, beneath his vine and fig tree, shall live in peace and unafraid.”

    Congrats on the new purchase, here's hoping there will be many years of bountiful harvests!

  12. Wow...I wonder if Joe delivers to California?
    ...and I wonder how happy the figs would be in our winter snow.I guess I could try one in a pot, and move it in during winter.

  13. Good luck with the new plants and happy fruiting! The part of Vancouver I'm in has a high Italian population and they're are figs and grape vines everywhere. Some are 5m tall or so. They look really odd when they're older. They already have young figs! I'm going to try ficus auriculata (strawberry fig) here when I actually have a property. Huge leaves!

  14. Thomas, how exciting! and what a wonderful story attached to his product. ;)

    PS. I read your message intended for my post, but as I selected 'publish', it went into cyberspace, along with several others. Blogger seems to be having issues. Thanks for the compliment, but you are the one with the green fingers. ;)

  15. I am so glad that you can grow fig trees in your state! There is indeed something mystical and infinite about a fig tree. We use to climb on them as kids to the horror of the adults in the family, who thought fig tree branches can break too easily under the weight of a child. They'd rather have "boring" grown-up lunch under the stately trees.

    My favorite variety is the Mission fig. I'll look up Joe's site and see if I can find new varieties to explore. Thanks for the pointer.

  16. Exciting! Mine is a bit slow to start after its root pruning. Joe thought mine might be a black Triana...

  17. As you may assume...I love figs! I hadn't tasted one until I was about 25 years old when my grandmother came to my little ramshackle apartment in the country adn exclaimed, "Oh! You have a fig tree!" And I said, "Where?!" It was right in front of my door. I had no idea! Anyway...congrats on being a fig owner. They're gorgeous...and delicious. And "fist sized"? I've never seen one that big!

  18. Hi Thomas, I'm growing figs on the opposite coast, but about your same parallel. Thanks so much for Joe's info. I can see I need some more fig trees--namely Joe's varieties.

    Two of my favorites I grow are Negronne
    and Peter's Honey fig
    (which sounds very much like one of Joe's).

    Love your blog; I look forward to reading more.

  19. I had NO idea that fig existed that could be grown up here! What a shock- and what a treat! I hope they bear well. My parents have a fig tree in their garden in Alabama, and eating fresh figs is, in fact, paradiso!

  20. I've been on the lookout for a fig tree. Marie sent me this link she said you had a fig tree too. How are the figs? Have you harvested any this year? Are they sweet?

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  26. DO you have any of the Black triana cuttings available?