Native to Persia (Iran) and grown largely in Mediterranean areas, figs are also found in abundance in the United Kingdom thanks to the Roman invaders and the fig vines they brought with them. Fig trees must be maintained throughout the year in order to produce summer fruit. The advent of the greenhouse has enabled a variety of figs to be grown in England. Botanically named ficus carica, figs are numerous, plentiful and sweet in England.
The brown turkey fig is large and pear shaped with a deep purple skin. The flesh is bright red and sweet to the taste. The tree itself grows quickly so it must be contained in a pot to restrict growth and to produce fruit more abundantly. The brown turkey ripens in late August.
The Brunswick fig tree produces a very large pear-shaped fruit and ripens in late July to early August. Its skin is a yellow-green, and the sun adds a brown tinge. The flesh is yellow with a red centre and the fruit is mildly sweet. It can be grown as a garden tree (freestanding) and is hardy if put in a sheltered position and covered in cold weather.
The white Marseilles fig was introduced to the English by Cardinal Pole at Lambeth Palace in 1525. The original trees are still producing fruit with a light green skin and green flesh. The white Marseilles should be grown in a pot and brought indoors or into a greenhouse between the months of December and March. Two crops can be produced yearly if the tree is brought indoors from August to April. The annual white Marseilles will ripen in early September.
Rouge de Bordeaux
While it has a French name, the rouge de Bordeaux fig is quite prolific in England. Grown best in a greenhouse, it should be placed facing south and against a brick wall. The southern exposure will give the tree heat and the brick wall retains the heat. It is a medium-sized fruit, with a purple skin and a deep ruby-red flesh.
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