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Top Fruit Trees for Gardens in the South

Here are a few of the best fruit trees for the southeastern region.

Sharing plump, just-plucked fruits with children, the next generation of gardeners, is a great satisfaction. I'm also drawn to trees with ornamental value.

I admire my neighbor's 60-foot, native American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) featuring attractive, gray-brown bark in a deep checkered pattern, and round, yellow-orange fruits born in fall. If not eaten when fully ripe to the point of mushiness, they yield a legendary taste that is the very definition of puckering. In smaller gardens, try Chinese persimmon (Diospyros kaki), which tops out close to 30 feet and sports a wide-branching habit, brilliant fall foliage, and orange fruits that persist into winter.

My successes with growing peaches have been iffy at best, but based on the advice of the eminent Stark Bro's Nurseries, I intend to try again this year. Their online catalog proclaims, "If you plant just one peach tree, don't even think of any peach other than our Burbank July Elberta." With a hardiness stretching from Zones 5 to 9; small pits; sweet flesh; and fragrant, rose-red springtime blossoms, the rewards seem worth the risks. "Beyond that, it's a beautiful tree," Stark Bro's says. That clinched it for me.

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