Flowering Cherry Season
By Lorraine Spooner
Spring is the season for the wonderful range of blossom that appears in profusion on these beautiful trees. Often fleeting, we should take example from the Japanese, whose traditional custom of enjoying the transient beauty of their national flower is called Hanami, or ‘flower viewing’. Fortunately, the trees flower at different times, some as early as March, others into May, but usually each species lasts for just two weeks, before a breeze causes a shower of petals to form a carpet below the canopy, extending our enjoyment of this wonder of nature for a little longer. Cherry blossom is also associated with clouds due to their fluffy, cloudlike appearance when in full bloom and some cultivars, such as ‘Fragrant Cloud’, reflect this relationship.
The trees are sought after and grown globally, their popularity in part due to one man, Collingwood ‘Cherry’ Ingram, as he became known, who was an authority on Japanese flowering cherries and played a major role in re-introducing some varieties back to Japan, such as ‘Tai Haku’, after it had become extinct in its native country (see below). He achieved this by transporting the graft inside a potato on the trans-Siberian railway. He also introduced more than 50 cultivars into Britain from Japan and successfully bred many, such as ‘Kursar’ in the garden of his Kent home.
I have detailed below a small selection which encompasses a wide range of flower form, colour and differing growth habits to suit many garden styles.
Prunus cerasifera ‘Crimson Pointe’
This relatively new introduction of the purple leaved cherry-plum has an upright habit, making it an excellent choice for the smaller garden where space may be limited. The young foliage emerges bronze against which the pink tinged white flowers in spring provide a stunning contrast. Later in the season, the foliage takes on tonal variants of bronze-deep purple.