Pomegranates offer garden and health benefits
I was just thinking about the pomegranate. It’s such a versatile plant. After planting a row of dwarf pomegranates (Punica granatum nana) as a natural low hedge in a design, I had the opportunity to design the larger variety into a space where it worked as a colorful screen. The bright orange-red flowers are as decorative as any ornamental blooming shrub and the fruit hangs off the tree like jolly red Christmas ornaments — unless you pick them to eat or extract the juice instead.
The pomegranate is a venerable fruit that dates back to biblical times when it was honored in ancient artwork and included in many tales and parables. Popularity today has been boosted by recent research that recommends it as a natural preventative of the free radical cells that can be a precursor to cancer. Some believe it is a helpful aid for weight control. It is also an excellent source of vitamin C, niacin and fiber. Other curious facts about the pomegranate is that it is recorded as having 365 seeds — just like the number of days in a year. Another myth is that they have 614 seeds like one ancient calendar. I haven’t had the patience to count them to find out.
Pomegranates are easy to grow, like full sun and are more drought-tolerant than many other fruit trees. They thrive in rich and poor soil. The flowers are so showy that there are decorative cultivars bred to show off pink, coral or white flowers with flouncy layers like petticoats. These ornamental varieties don’t even bother much with fruiting. You can let the full-sized Punica granatum ramble or sprawl. Or you can clip it into a neat, small tree. The Pomegranate will even tolerate pruning it into a simple, formal topiary.
So, if you are thinking about an interesting fruit to grow, consider the Pomegranate. Small varieties will do fine in limited garden space or even in containers on a patio or balcony. Big Pomegranates will produce lots of fruit and serve as trees, living walls or fill in awkward spaces. Oh, and just for a bonus, the Pomegranate will turn a brilliant yellow at the end of the season before going into winter dormancy, just to add some seasonal color to your garden. What more could you ask of a fruit tree?
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