Bring on the flowering cherries!
Prunus types all over the country are starting to flower, heralding the start of spring. Prunus Okame is one of the first to flower in March whilst Prunus maackii Amber Beauty is generally the first tree to leaf up in April. There are some great examples of cherry planting all over the UK including the Prunus Kanzan avenue on the Stray in Harrogate and the Prunus dulcis street trees in Barnet, London. The trick to establish cherries and get them thriving is to plant them on a free draining soil and to not plant them deep. Any hint of waterlogged ground and they succumb with bacterial canker with Prunus Tai Haku being the most susceptible to failing if the conditions aren’t right.
For the longest flowering period look no further than Prunus shirofugen. It flushes white and then darkens to pink over a six week period. The one outside my office window on the nursery still has a smattering of flower left on it in June!
For those of you who can’t wait until the spring, try Prunus subhirtella Autumnalis or Prunus subhirtella Autumnalis Rosea which start to flower in the autumn and them carry on throughout the winter before a full on display in April. In cold winters the flower will freeze off but generally they are very reliable.
My personal preference is Prunus Shimidsu Sakura which has the most stunning double white delicate flowers. Pink in bud and with a slightly weeping habit, its glorious floral display is great against a blue sky. What is more, like most cherries, its autumn colour is also impressive with green leaves tuning shades of yellows and reds in November.
If you like the sound of flowering cherries but haven’t got the soil to support them, consider the Malus Crab Apples which grow on wetter and heavier soils. In my opinion, Malus Rudolph is the best pink whilst Malus Evereste is the best white.
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