Yes, Virginia (or should I say Massachusetts?), Fig Newtons probably were named after Newton, MA — but they’re not the only figs in town. I recently stumbled upon this ardent Essex County gardening blog about growing fig trees in jolly old Boston–and a new map of East Boston’s finest figs, among other attractions.
There are two keys to growing Fig Bostons:
1. Get to Joe Morle’s Roslindale Fig Nursery and do whatever he says. Joe sells Mediterranean and Italian figs, and knows what he’s doing.
2. Be prepared to cover the entire plant in some sort of insulation from the ground up every fall.
If you persist, and are of stout heart and true, you might be rewarded with a tree worthy of the Joseph Ciampa Community Garden in East Boston. This astonishing garden, which won a 2008 Community Garden award in Mayor Menino’s Garden Contest, features a healthy fig tree that I could swear is over 20 feet tall. How do they *do* it? I really don’t know. You should go ask the Ciampa gardeners.
After all, the Ciampa garden is a short walk from Piers Park and the curious plantings along the Navy Fuel Pier, the first segment of the East Boston Greenway path, and other intriguing green spaces. You won’t get lost: the Boston Natural Areas Network has produced a new East Boston Open Space Map and Guide, available in both English and Spanish at the bottom of this page. Get the map, get on the Blue Line, and go see the fig tree before it gets tied into its winter coat again.