by Ken Lain, the Mountain Gardener, Watters Garden Center (photo courtesy of Watters Garden Center)
This is the year of the fruit tree. Peaches warmed by the afternoon sun plucked fresh from the tree melt in your mouth. Plum, apricot, cherry and nectarine are also enjoyed with the apple and pear harvest soon to follow.
Here is my list of Prescott’s 10 best local fruits:
Granny Smith Apples are grown primarily as a dessert and cooking apple. Still, my mouth waters thinking about an apple picked fresh and eaten under the shade of this landscape beauty. This late-blooming variety consistently fruits in local gardens. Also consider Honeycrisp, Yellow Delicious, and Gala apples.
Gleason Elberta Peach is the world’s most famous because of its abundant flavor and attractive color. This tree produces huge peaches of the highest quality. Redhaven, Ranger, and Rio Oso Gem are excellent peaches.
Moorpark Apricot is the best red apricot with a rich, luscious flavor. This large, firm apricot is a local favorite for eating out-of-hand. Also consider Harcot, Chinese and Tilton apricots.
Stella Cherry is very cold-hardy. Its dense clusters of fruit resemble Bing varieties, but I find them to be sweeter. Other sweet cherry trees to consider are Bing, Van and Utah Giant cherries.
Pear, nectarine, plums, almonds and walnuts also produce well in the mountains of Arizona.
Grapes produce surprisingly well here. The fruits can be a tad smaller than their California cousins, but they are sweeter than other grapes tasted. The most substantial seedless producers are the Flame and Thompson varieties, but don’t dismiss the vineyard wine grapes.
Bountiful Blueberry plants are hardy in the ground but produce the best fruits when this showy shrub is grown in containers. They make exciting additions to full-sun areas just off a patio.
For a touch of a genuinely Arizona crop: Manzanita blossoms produce dark fruits of a melt-in-your-mouth quality. Other native fruits are Mahonia and Currants.
You can see which fruiting trees are in stock at: www.top10fruittrees.com