'Brown Turkey' is the most reliable of the Fig cultivars for producing sweet, ripe, edible fruits of good size in the British climate. Its wonderfully-large deeply-lobed leaves are highly ornamental, providing huge exotic impact during the growing season and are a powerful reminder that gardens don't have to be drab. There is something genuinely inspirational about the Fig tree that manages to lift one's spirits and transport the bewitched gardener to a more magical place. It is not just the tropical-look foliage or the handy gifts of exotic fruit: the tree itself has a presence, a certain majesty, a nobility. As it grows and the trunk thickens to a decent size and the wide umbrella spokes of its branches articulate a broad lofty canopy, it conveys a sense of connection, not just to the elemental wonders of nature but to history and the passage of time. In its journey from the Middle East, the Fig tree has followed the contours of civilizations and the migration and evolution of horticultural practice, encompassing the very history of gardening and the essence of what an exotic plant is. Sitting under a large Fig, browsing on the bounty of its fruit in the autumm sun, it is all to easy to contemplate the tides of human endeavour and the transient nature of all that exists. It is not every tree that can induce such a philosophical frame of mind but the Fig tree seems to do it in spades.
Coming back to Earth after a Ficus-induced reverie is always a pleasant experience, like awakening from a warm mellow dream. It a soft landing, enriched by memories and musings that make gardening more than just a set of tasks and chores. The Fig tree is a horticultural treasure that rewards those that tend it with a personal harvest of all that is meaningful and a wealth of rememberings. It is one of those rare plants that I tend to seek out and value above most others for it provides a window, a journey though the looking glass, a voyage beyond the everyday, not through any entheogenic properties but by its sheer nobility of presence.
'Brown Turkey' crops from a relatively early age and like all figs, the tree will produce a better crop if its roots are restricted. You can plant it in a large container and that is usually the best option for the first few years as the tree begins to develop some size. It also allows you time to get to know it and its cutivational requirements and to work out the best permanent place for it in your garden. When it is ready to go into the ground, it is ideally planted against a warm south-facing wall. You can restrict its root-run by constructing beneath the ground a box-like structure made out of old paving slabs or bricks.
The fruit has a sweet rich flavour and are a delicious treat. There is no need to wait until the fruit darkens; they are edible as soon as they start turning soft and their sugars start to develop. Storing them on the kitchen window-sill for a few days is a good way to further ripen them. In some years we may have a very warm autumn and the crop will be particularly good but as the days get colder and windier it is usually best to harvest them as they soften rather than see them blown to the ground.
|Synonyms||Ficus carica 'San Piero', Ficus carica 'Brown Naples', Ficus carica 'Texas Everbearing'|
|Geographical Origin||Horticultural cultivar. The species originates in Syria and Iran|
|Cultivation||Full sun. Against a warm south-facing wall or in a container. Likes a restricted root-run. Water well|
|Eventual Height||5m. Smaller than that is more realsitic in your lifetime|
|Hardiness||Fully hardy. Can take temperatures down to at least -15C and is root-hardy beyond that|
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