Monrovia Plant Savvy
design, inspiration and practical ideas from the plant experts. June 2010
simply delicious
  Dear Savvy Gardener,

Thinking about adding some edibles to your garden but not exactly sure where to start? A wise move is to plant some easy-to-grow fruiting shrubs and trees. Most are very attractive and complement an existing ornamental garden. Fruiting plants have flowers that precede the fruit; some, like citrus blossoms, are highly fragrant. Best of all, they will reward you with a bounty of delicious, organic fruit year after year, without a lot of effort on your part. One fabulous fruit that is just beginning to earn the respect it deserves is the Pomegranate . Yes, that funny-looking fruit with the rich history. It’s one of the oldest fruits known to man, plays a role in legends and lore of many cultures, and was once seen as a sign of fertility (thanks to its hundreds of seeds). More importantly, it has outstanding health benefits, is delicious and can even reduce sun damage to your skin.

Pomegranates are high in anti-oxidants – as much as three times that of green tea or red wine. Plus loads of vitamin C, niacin, potassium and fiber. Eat up!
a funny fruit with a fabulous taste
  Pomegranate flowers leafgif   bright orange flowers

In the garden, Pomegranates can be grown as a large shrub or trimmed to a small tree shape. They are loaded with brilliant orange flowers that attract hummingbirds, and those showy summer flowers give way to the delicious fruit of the Goddesses. In case you’re a bit rusty on your Greek mythology, it was poor Persephone who, when held captive by Hades, could not resist a small taste of the Pomegranate’s ruby seeds, thus condemning all of us to six months of cold, barren winters. But who could blame her? The sweet, tart juice that comes from the arils or seed coatings is magical — both in taste and health benefits.

Angel Red® Pomegranate

chew on this

Some people find Pomegranate seeds to be a bit too fibrous for their liking — but that is a problem no more with our new Angel Red® variety. It was bred to produce soft seeds that are pleasant to eat, and its juice content is much higher than other varieties. Angle Red bears its prolific, bright-red fruit in early September, before most other Pomegranates. Wonderful is a longtime favorite variety, and most used in the juice you find in the markets. It is an ideal no-fuss plant — water-wise (once established), a good firescaping choice and deer-resistant.

Sweet, juicy arils Wonderful Pomegranate

more than a juice

If you can bear it … leave a few fruits on the tree at the end of the season to feed birds into the winter. Most Pomegranates are cold hardy to Zone 7, but some, like Wonderful, can be grown in a container and brought indoors in colder climates. It’s easy to find fabulous recipes for Pomegranates online. Or just toss some seeds in a salad, atop a parfait or into a glass of champagne. (If no one is home, go ahead and stand over the sink and gnaw on the fruit, ignoring the juice running down your chin.)

Flame Seedless Grape Black Jack Fig

"with September’s moon...

…the grape and fig are ready,” according to an old Venetian proverb. Plant now and you can also enjoy these delicious fruits in the fall. Grape vines will grow quickly to climb a wall, trellis or arbor. Three North America native, cold hardy varieties to try are Niagra, with its big yellow green fruit that is oh so sweet; Catawba , with purple-red berries that ripen later in the season; and Delaware, a luscious, red dessert grape that is ready to harvest in the early mid-season.

Fresh Figs are expensive and sometimes hard to find — so grow your own. Fig trees are water-wise and fuss-free. Try Black Jack, with its deep purple, very sweet fruit and semi-dwarf form, ideal for where space is limited; Brown Turkey, which fruits twice a year; or Peter’s Honey , named for its sugary goodness.

Create a wall of foliage on your deck


A trend we love is growing plants on a wall — not vines that climb up, but with containers that let you plant whatever you want, indoors or out. Do an online search for living wall and you’ll find some fabulous planters you can make yourself, or that are ready to hang, like Woolly Pockets or Plants on Walls. You can hang them near your kitchen door and fill with herbs and small edibles. No more excuses if you have a small yard or balcony — these can double your gardening space.

From cinder block to garden wall in no time. Plant succulents for a water-wise wall

growing up

In Monrovia’s display gardens, we planted a fabulous foliage shade garden on one side of a wall, choosing plants with great color and texture. We included bright Golden Japanese Forest Grass; blue spiky Little Rev™ Flax Lily; and Silver Scrolls Coral Bells , with its slivery purple leaves. On the sunny side of the wall, we created a cottage look with flowering Daylilies, Princess Lilies and Blue and Gold Spiderwort. Vines like Clematis will trail down the wall with a profusion of blooms. Constance Alpine has a pretty lavender double flower. Give it a try and see how you can drive your plants up a wall!