SPRING is showtime for the flowering cherry trees. These trees have a powerful impact on people when they’re in bloom – more so than I’ve seen with any flowering tree!
Last week I had to wait my turn to get some “one on one time” (and some photos at Golden Gate Park) with the cherries. Swarms of people had the same idea!
And I get how they feel…
The flowering of cherry trees signals the symbolic start of spring, a time of renewal and the fleeting nature of life. The blossoms’ ethereal beauty peaks after two or three weeks and they begin to fall.
It’s spring, and aren’t you tired of a long winter – and being cooped up? What a relief it is to see the maniacal blooms of the cherry! Whew.
What about the cherry blossom flowers?
The genus, Prunus, is in the Rose Family (Rosaseae) and flower color ranges from pink to white. Most varieties have either flowers that are single – semi-double- or double. Take a look (directly below) at an example of a single and semi-double flowering variety.
Growing and caring for a flowering cherry tree
If you want a gorgeous flowering one at your place just make sure to meet their cultural requirements: full sun and fast draining , well-aerated soil. If your soil is a heavy clay – plant in a raised bed. When established, these amazing trees are somewhat drought tolerant, but they’ll do best and be healthiest with moderate water in summer!
About the branching, trunk, bark and leaves…
Flowering cherry trees are deciduous and loose their leaves every winter. But before the leaves drop, cherries like to put on an excellent show of fall color, and even do so reliably in a mild winter climate. Fall colors range from yellow to orange. Sometimes even, there’s a hint of burgundy, which adds to the reasons why these trees are on our list!
There are many varieties of flowering cherry trees with incredible form and characteristics easy to fall in love with- think of a weeping cherry tree.
I’m partial to the v shaped form and most definitely partial to one that is grown to enjoy inherent long horizontal branching like Prunus ‘Shirotae’ above. These long branches you might see in a Japanese garden or elsewhere, can create both framing, and/or the effect of a low intimate ceiling. They’re also very sculptural!
But now I don’t want to forget the striking form of a standard cherry tree (one with a single trunk) Take a look at the photos below and see what you think? I could look at the trunk all day! 🙂
Japanese flowering cherries for small gardens
In general, flowering cherry trees are a good fit for a small garden space, or container. Many of the varieties grow to only 20 -25 feet tall. Visible in the photos below taken in winter – single trunk (standards) whether with a balanced round head, or with zig zag branching translate well to small gardens. For containers choose a slow growing, compact variety. For a different habit, slender upright – Prunus ‘Amanogawa’ – 25′ h x 10′ w grows narrowly upright with strongly ascending branches. This tree has large double pale pink flowers and makes an attractive specimen for a small garden.
To learn how to identify cherry trees, click here.
Pest and disease
Issues that can affect this tree are verticillium wilt and fireblight. If you have issues with fireblight in your area – you may want to choose another type of tree. Verticillium wilt is soil related, so if you are aware that this is a problem in your garden, choose an alternative tree resistant to the soil born disease.
Simply put, cherries make our flowering tree list for their multi-seasonal interest; #1. Count on them to start the year with interesting bark and branching; #2. Next up, arresting spring bloom; #3. Summer time – enjoy a beautiful, zen tree; #4. In autumn showy fall color.
ps: Next week we’ve got a post coming that follows this one called: 5 Cherry Trees you’ll Love! This will give you some good info on varieties that are actually more commonly grown so that you can get your hands on one. When you can’t it’s frustrating, right? 🙂