Monday, April 21, 2008

Trilliums are not the only flowers with parts in 3's (in Fern Valley)

Pawpaws, Asimina triloba, are known more for their tasty custardy fruits than these curious pendulous blooms. The flowers are nice though. I guess its just that so much more spectacle is happening in the garden now (azaleas, lilacs, crabapples, etal.) that Pawpaw flowers just fade into the background. They are handsome enough, interesting, curious, even maybe endearing, but not spectacular. The tree itself is pleasantly attractive though and grows well in the shade. If you have ever grown an avocado from seed you will have some idea of what a pawpaw looks like. The leaves are up to a foot long and so this is a way to add a bit of coarse, or bold texture to a shady part of the garden. The fruits are tasty; I like them. I have heard people claim that the flavor is insipidly bland. The fruit has the consistency of soft custard and tastes a bit like banana Turkish taffy. For fruit set you need 2 plants that are genetically different as the flowers are self-incompatible. Of course as a design element 3 would work better!

There are not so many fruits that will grow in the shade. When clients who have no sun ask me for fruit trees in their designs, pawpaws are often the answer. Of course blueberries are good too, but they aren't "fruit trees." For a long time though a few cultivars did exist, they were almost never available. Now that pawpaw is being looked at by commercial, usually organic, growers, cultivars are appearing. We are fortunate, in this area, to have Neal Peterson, owner of the nursery, Peterson's Pawpaws. Neal is an ardent devotee of and advocate for Pawpaws, and has produced a number of cultivars selected for their outstanding attributes.

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