Twenty five years ago, Mike McConkey, in Afton, Va., had potted up a few hardy kiwis given to him as cuttings from an old nurseryman. When the nurseryman was quoted in a garden magazine saying that Mike was the best source for hardy kiwis, he received about $10,000 worth of orders for the plant and knew it was time to get serious about running a nursery. He called it Edible Landscaping.
Mike's mission is to find edible varieties that grow well in the south and can be grown organically.
Our Liberty apple, Stella sweet cherry, Violet of Bourdeaux and a few other plants had come from there via mail order and I had talked about visiting the place for years. But I only made it by there when Chris and I went to one of her cousin's weddings in Altoona, PA .
The Mapquest map brought us through the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah Valley and strangely right through the tiny town of Afton, VA, so I had to stop for a visit in Oct, when I took these pics.
And brought home a few things. Like this seedless Che tree with scrumptious brain-like fruit.
I did not buy a kiwi, but include this pic for contrast....
...with this hardy kiwi variety called Issai, which does not need a mate and does not need to be peeled like common kiwis (above). Just pop them in your mouth like a grape.
An epiphytic plant like a night blooming cereus grows in their greenhouse and produces an edible fruit. Here it gets some tender, loving care from a staff member.
Native persimmons were ripe too.
I've had great success with plants from Edible Landscaping--he ships year round in pots, so you get a bigger plant with a strong root system. Costs more than most mail order places, but you definitely get more for your money.