Fruits of Alys

Thirteenth Edition Details of Alys
Fruits of Alys
Musings on the beauty of Alys Beach from the photo files of Alys Beach Marketing.

This visual exploration of the details found in the design of Alys Beach is a continuation of our “of Alys” series. In August, we enjoyed the sometimes muted, sometimes bold color palette of the “Shutters of Alys,” a lighthearted continuation of the form-meets-function thread that runs through the “Details of Alys” (and perhaps a little foreshadowing into some exciting new developments to come to the Alys Shoppe).

This month, we shift our attention to landscape with the “Fruits of Alys.” Alys Beach landscape design coordinator Kendall Horne’s approach to design is fully in keeping with the form-meets-function philosophy that permeates our town. Urban foraging within the New Urbanist landscape. Not only is the landscape beautiful, but it’s functional at many levels, providing edible elements in addition to support for the ecosystem and the design appeal. Cold-hearty citrus fruits, bananas, blueberries, pears, plums, beauty berries, strawberries, Muscadine grapes, loquats, Pindo/jelly palm fruit, and Frantoio (heat and humidity tolerant) olives can be found along the pedestrian paths, in planters and urns, and within the private courtyards of Alys. Perhaps the most visually dramatic of the fruiting plants in Alys are the Kieffer pear trees espaliered in classic candelabra designs against the white walls of homes in Alys. Espalier is the horticultural and ancient agricultural technique for training fruit trees against a flat surface using a trellis system and pruning techniques, devised for saving space in gardens, and for extending the growing season to increase fruit production and maturation by using the wall for sunlight reflection and heat retention. 

The fruits grown here in Alys Beach are specific to our Northwest Florida region, Zone 9B (hardiness zone, or geographic area defining a range of climatic conditions for landscape and gardening, developed by the United States Department of Agriculture), and are more cold-tolerant than those found throughout much of Florida. They are also grown organically without pesticides or other harmful chemicals. These beautiful fruits add color and interest to the landscape, and for those who harvest them, the perfect twist for a cocktail or seasonal salad, garnish for a plate or cheeseboard, or base for homemade jellies and jams. 

When enjoying the fruits of Alys, be sure to engage in best practices for foraging safely and responsibly. While there are fruiting trees and bushes found in the common parks and pedestrian paths, many (including the espalier pears) are incorporated into the private landscapes and urns around town, and are not for public consumption. Some fruits, like the beauty berry and Frantoio olive, must be properly processed to be edible, and some have parts that are edible and other parts that are toxic. It’s always good practice to identify anything that you pick prior to consuming. Likewise, when foraging, it’s recommended that you take only what you need in the moment so that the plants have time to recover, and use a pair of shears for herbs and gently twist off individual pieces of fruit at the stem to avoid harming the plant. 

The “Fruits of Alys” add yet another layer of interest to our town, another detail to captivate us as we stroll down the pedestrian paths or bike along the streets and pathways. Fruiting trees and bushes add texture, color and dimension to the landscape, the architecture, and to the shared, communal, urban experience through intentional, thoughtful design. 

If you’re inspired to add fruiting plants to your landscape, in addition to our wonderful local nurseries,  Just Fruits and Exotics in Crawfordville, Florida is worth the trek. Call ahead to check that they’re open and that they have what you’re looking for. Their website is also a great resource and offers the option to order plants online for shipping. 

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