Trees are a beautiful part of your garden. When they produce fruit for your table or for just snacking on while you work in your garden, you have the best of all worlds. Just imagine bowls of pitted olives – maybe with stuffing, slices of juicy, sweet mangos, guacamole with corn chips for a savory change from the sweet, and tall, tangy glasses of lime juice or perhaps a salad topped with finger lime globules. Gardens should be a place of both beauty and bounty.
Olives originated along the shores of the Mediterranean where it is thought that perhaps the fruits fell into salt water where they soaked in brine, thereby becoming edible. Olives need to be pickled or soaked in brine. Once treated, they can be further processed by pitting them, perhaps stuffing the cavity with peppers, or they can be pressed to create oil. Just think of all the different ways that olive oil can be used, from salads to sauteeing or even as a lubricant for machine parts. They can be picked when they are green, or they can be left on the tree to ripen into black olives for a richer, fuller flavour.
Olive trees are beautiful. With their silvery grey-green leaves, gnarled trunks and twisting branches they become a shady haven or a centrepiece for a special bed in your garden.
The mango is a princely fruit. Its rich yellow rind just brushed with a rosy tint, is the perfect finish for the oval, somewhat pear-shaped fruit. The pulp is sweet. When pressed for juice, the result is a sort of fruit nectar that can be mixed with tangier fruit juice for a refreshing summer drink. The mango tree is an evergreen with glossy, green leaves. Long-lived, it can grow to a height of 45 meters or more – so be sure to allow plenty of growing room if you are setting out a baby mango tree. You could not ask for a better shade tree for any tropical garden.
The avocado is another oval or pear-shaped fruit from a tree that could be beautiful in a tropical garden. In fact, one of its other names is alligator pear because of its general shape and because of its bumpy green or black fruit. It has become a popular fruit to spread on toast, or it can be mixed with other ingredients to make guacamole, a dip that is absolutely perfect with corn chips. An avocado tree also grows to be quite large, and can be a splendid shade tree.
A Tahitian lime is one of those unique trees that would not be possible without human intervention. It is a hybrid of Key lime and lemon and is usually propagated from cuttings. It has a milder flavour than the key lime but has that distinctive lime flavour that is different from a standard lemon. It is a medium-sized tree, good for growing in places where you would not want a botanical giant such as a mango tree. It is a tropical plant, and best grown in a pot if you live in areas that are subject to frost.
Native Australian Finger Limes
Add a dash of native zest to your drinks or your salad topping with Native Australian finger limes. These distinctive little fruits are about the size of a man’s pinky finger. Another name for them is fruit caviar because of the tangy globules of sharp flavour that are inside each fruit. They have a short harvest season, and an equally short shelf life, so they are truly a seasonal treat.
Fruit is one of those things that is almost always an asset in your garden. When the fruit trees are also beautiful shade trees, you could scarcely ask for anything better. With the exception of the olives, most of these fruits can be enjoyed right off the tree, making them a delightful reward for working in your garden, especially on those hot, dusty days in late summer.