Wednesday, April 15, 2020

cherry blossom days

Prunus 'Kanzan' just coming into bloom, 7th April, 2020.

With fine dry weather over the past week, the climax of the cherry blossom season is going to be brief and brilliant this year, so I'm rushing this post out while it's still timely. Everything is record-breakingly early, but it might have been even earlier if not for that week of continental chill towards the end of March. Climate change continues apace.

Here is Prunus 'Kanzan', which we usually think of as a "late" zakura cherry, breaking into blossom on the 7th of April.

Prunus 'Kanzan' just coming into bloom, 7th April 2020.

Prunus 'Kanzan' fully out, 10th April 2020.

Three days later, it's in full bloom.

Prunus 'Kanzan' fully out, 10th April 2020.

Prunus 'Pink Perfection', 12th April 2020

Here's the other common bright pink cherry, 'Pink Perfection', a smaller but even lovelier tree, with darker opening buds, more variety in the colour of the open blossoms (white-stained-with-pink, rather than pure pink) and fresher green leaves.

Double variety of Wild Cherry, Prunus avium var. 'Plena', 14th April 2020.

Our native Wild Cherry (Prunus avium) has proved an amazingly valuable tree. Apart from its timber, prized for both carpentry and fuel, it is the ancestor of all the sweet cherries we eat raw. (And most experts think that the Sour Cherry, Prunus cerasus, is of hybrid origin, with Wild Cherry one of its ancestors, the other the dwarf cherry Prunus fruticosa.)

It's also widely grown around towns for its blossom, both in its wild form and in numerous varieties. The double form, Prunus avium var. 'Plena', is as flamboyant as a zakura cherry, and it grows much bigger.

"Sleeved" variety of Wild Cherry (Prunus avium), 14th April 2020.

Here's another variety of Wild Cherry that's widely planted in urban environments. I don't know its name, but the long sleeves of blossom are spectacular.

"Sleeved" variety of Wild Cherry (Prunus avium), 14th April 2020.

Wild Cherry (Prunus avium), 16th April 2020.

Here, for contrast, is a normal specimen of Wild Cherry in flower. An uplifting sight, but not quite so dramatic.

Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus), 8th April 2020

Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) is another species that seems to be grown in many varieties. This is what I think of as the normal form. Relatively fresh green glossy leaves, obovate in shape and not pointed.

Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus), 8th April 2020

Variety of Cherry Laurel? 5th April 2020.
I'm pretty sure this is a Cherry Laurel variety but that's all I know. The leaves are darker green and a bit more matt, narrower in shape and pointed, the racemes of blossom narrower too. It might be "Schip Laurel", Prunus laurocerasus var. 'Schipkaensis', discovered in the Schipka mountains in Bulgaria. But this one doesn't show the barrel-shaped habit that has made 'Schipkaensis' a popular choice for hedges and privacy screens. (Deer won't nibble any Cherry Laurel, very sensibly.)

Variety of Cherry Laurel? 8th April 2020.

Variety of Cherry Laurel? 8th April 2020

Prunus laurocerasus var. 'Otto Luyken', 16th April 2020.

Another Cherry Laurel variety, 'Otto Luyken'. Erect pointed leaves and lots of puffy racemes of blossom. A compact variety, widely planted in town environments.

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