Cherry blossom:What do you think?

Laura

It’s spring so which blossom is best? Some people swoon over cherry blossom but personally I wouldn’t give a cherry tree house room in my garden. Having to put up with its coarse leaves and those irritating horizontal circles round its bark all year round just for a week of some sycophantic pink froth of petals which it thinks justifies its existence.

Tim once planted an unauthorised wild cherry next to our garage which grew into a monster, sending out its malign suckers to infiltrate every plant in a 10 metre radius. He’s been in the doghouse ever since.

No, if you want blossom in your garden over Easter, choose something with more depth, something that has a point to it, a quince perhaps which had pretty flowers, scent and then gorgeous voluptuous fruit it the autumn.

Quince flowers – as pretty as any cherry

 

Then produces these fabulous fruits in autumn.

Or go for a crab apple which, if you choose the right one, can give you blossom, fruit and autumn colour: Malus ‘ Transitoria’  has a lovely spreading shape, blossom for ages, autumn colour then tiny yellow fruits for the birds to feast on. You can choose a crab apple tree with the particular characteristics you want from the selector page on the website of the excellent Pippin Trees

Or go for something with more intrigue, my Akebia quinata, the chocolate vine, is opening it’s buds now with a dark smouldering mystery that has far more class than any shallow cherry tree.

Akebia quinata – the connoisseur’s choice for spring blossom
Elaine

Wouldn’t you just know that dear Laura would go all snobby about cherry trees!  I will grant that the knicker-pink of ubiquitous Prunus ‘Kansan’ has an awful bluish tinge to it that definitely grates. But what about my gorgeous little P. incisa ‘Kojo No Mai’ (I believe that means ‘Dance of Butterflies’ in Japanese) ? It is a slow-growing quite compact shrub, (would be fab in a big pot) with dense zig-zaggy branches bearing hundreds of little white-turning-to-pink blossoms in early spring.  Its leaves are small, unlike the big cherry tree varieties, and then in autumn they turn into a dazzling array of yellows, oranges and purples before they fall. Honestly, get one – it’s a beauty!

Kojo No Mai – snapped by Louise for her column last spring
Then it does this in the autumn

Then there is Amelanchier lamarkii – snowy mespilus – which has been a lovely froth of white star-shaped blossom for about 10 days now, just as the copper shoots are emerging, and this is another plant that looks like it’s on fire in the autumn. If you’re investing in a tree, it’s worth trying to make sure that it has more than one fabulous attribute.

Amalanchier – more than one attribute

And that of course is true of the apples and crab-apples, as Laura says. It’s hard to think of anything prettier than a large old apple tree, just as its white flowers are starting to open from pink buds. Once they are all out and there’s no more pink, I think the magic has gone a little, but there is still the fruit to look forward to. I’ve had fun training eight Malus ‘Red Sentinel’ crab apples into twin espaliers connecting a terrace to a pergola, and the branches are now laden with fat pink buds (see our feature picture at the top) among the emerging bright green leaves – that’s spring for you, right there……..

Caroline

Really by the time I got to the fourth line of what Elaine’s decrepit apple tree was doing, I was reaching for a gun. No, what you need in spring isn’t a blossom that has depth, or integrity, or more than one season, what you need is something with BALLS.

Handsome is as handsome does… and forsythia does!

Bring on Forsythia and Kerria (yes, of course I call the latter by its common name, bachelor’s buttons!). They might look like a car crash the rest of the year but after a long winter and a slow start to spring (what Laura’s farmer husband Tim refers to as ‘a cold back end’) we all need a shot in the arm and these brassy babes are just the thing.

When I lived in the Highlands, some way north of Inverness, I used Forsythia as a windbreak for my herbaceous borders, so don’t go telling me that it lacks character. This sat beside the spiky fluorescent hedge of Berberis darwinii, which also caused E and L to wince but boy did it keep the neighbour’s sheep out of the garden.

Berberis, not a Chelsea Gold Medal winner but a good sheep deterrent.

You see girls when you bang on about plants needing more than one attribute, it’s sometimes not the most obvious ones that matter!

NB Louise’s Great Plant this Month has so much more class than Muscari (grape hyacinths to Caroline).

The3Growbags

If you'd like to keep up to date with the3growbags gardening chit-chat just pop your email address in here

Growbag Blog, , , , , , ,

4 Comments

  1. Minus 1.5 degrees in County Durham last night – so Narcissi lying flat on the ground this morning (they may sit up again later) and early Rhododendron flowers all brown, alas, BUT cherries in full blossom completely unaffected! Go compute…
    I recommend one that was in full flower for us over a month ago, in very cold weather: Prunus mume ‘Beni chidori’ with deep pink flowers and really pretty. When I lived in London years ago, we had a huge Almond tree in our front garden, so gorgeous that people would travel to photograph it. Squirrels opened its nuts with ease but we had no nutcracker could cope – we had to use a hammer on the front doorstep. I agree about hating Kanzan, though!

    1. Thank you for writing in, Linda and Caroline. Elaine here. Glad you approve of some of our choices! Yes, we had a frost here in Western Normandy last night as well, but it wasn’t enough to flatten the narcissi, I’m happy to say. I have just looked up ‘Beni Chidori’ and it looks SO pretty. Thank you for the tip-off – it has just been added to my shopping list, though I daresay Laura with her weird cherry aversion will need a little more convincing!

      1. Hello all, Laura here!
        Actually if there was one cherry I would make room for it would be Beni-chidori (although strictly speaking I think it’s an apricot?) such beautiful deep pink simple flowers on bare stems, and as you say, flowering almost in late winter rather than spring. A great recommendation. We have a small almond tree, which also flowers early, but doesn’t sound nearly as spectacular as yours!
        Thanks for sharing your garden knowledge with us Best wishes Laura

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.