This fig tree originates from a magnificent specimen which has stood for many years on London's Chelsea Embankment, overlooking the River Thames.
The fig is steeped in history - its large leaves providing modesty for Adam & Eve in the bible. Fig trees are native to the Middle East and western Asia however the first fig was introduced to England in 1525. This special variety of Chelsea fig, is named after the iconic Fig tree growing on the banks of the Thames where Chelsea Bridge meets The Embankment where it was planted in 1874. Well known to locals as a 'free fruit bowl', this parent plant has lovely olive green foliage and bears high yields of well flavoured fruit. Each Summer it's huge crops are joyfully plundered - either by flocks of parakeets high up in the tree - or cheeky human scrumpers lower down where it can be reached. Either way, it produces huge crops of figs every year. So well-known is this specific tree, it even featured as the main hideout in William Boyd's novel Ordinary Thunderstorms. Fruit grower Will Sibley knew of this tree, and had tasted it's fruit. he took samples away to analyse, and concluded it was a chance seedling - a single and unique tree like no other variety grown. So good was the flavour and yeild, he set about propagating and grafting trees to sell from it - and here we are now selling them.Now called 'The Chelsea Fig', every single tree is identical the one by the river. Get yourself a piece of London history and folklore, and grow them in your garden. Figs often take a couple of years to ripen on the tree in the UK - so please be patient!
Slip into Provenance to pick up a delicious accompaniment to your figs. Perfect as a starter, side or light snack, this fig and prosciutto recipe (courtesy of BBC Good Food) is a must-try.
Fresh mint/rocket leaves
1. Halve the figs length-ways and put them, cut side down, without oil, in a hot griddle pan (or heavy-based frying pan) for one minute until charred. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste, and, while still warm, wrap each piece in a little piece of prosciutto.
Serve garnished with shaved Parmesan and fresh mint or rocket leaves.