In their never ending search for the perfect plant to center their garden, gardeners often turn to fruit trees. Not only do you get a beautiful tree that draws comments from friends and passerbies alike, but they also get to eat fruit when it is at its best. Not all fruit trees are planted as much as others and the ones planted the most tend to produce fruit that is readily available at the local store. Why not plant a tree that produces more unusual fruit, giving you a wider choice of fruits for your diet than anyone else in the neighborhood? If you have a very large property, it is conceivable that you could plant both common and not so common trees, but if you have a small property that will only accommodate a couple of trees, go for the unusual.
Hardy Kiwifruit (Actinidia aruguta) is not the same kiwifruit you find in the store–Actinidia chinensis. The taste is similar, but not exactly the same, and they are hardy much further north than the commercial varieties that are only grown as far north as Maryland. These can grow as far north as zone 3b. The fruit is much smaller, only about the size of a grape, and are not fuzzy. The seeds are very small and the fruit can be eaten without being pealed first. The plant is a vine and will be either male or female, so be sure to purchase at least one male tree for every nine or less females. The tree can be damaged by frost, so the best location is one with a northern exposure. You will also need a trellis to support the branches.
Cornelian Cherries(Cornus mas) is a tree that grows from 15 to 20 feet tall with small yellow flowers that bloom in late winter or early spring before the leaves put in their appearance. The leaves provide color when they change to purple-red in the fall. The dark red-maroon fruits are about the size of a grape. The tree is hardy in zones 5 through 8. Plant in full sun or partial shade and a fertile, well-drained soil.
Beach Plums (Prunus maritima) grow as bush from 4 to 10 feet tall. White or pink flowers bloom in mid-May. The red to deep-purple fruits measure up to 1 inch in diameter. The pulp is juicy and tart and are used to make jams and jellies. Give the plant a well-drained soil and full sun. They are also salt tolerant, so they go well in a beach side setting. Beach plums are hardy in zones 3 through 7.