Ask the gardener

Over the coming weeks, final proof that spring has arrived will be seen in the emerging blooms of the cherry blossom tree, or flowering cherries, as some people prefer to call them.

There are many varieties of cherry blossom and they all come under the botanical name ‘Prunus’.

Cherry blossoms are a deciduous tree that mainly flower in spring and are known collectively as cherry blossom since they all produce a similar type of flower. Not all cherry blossoms produce fruit, some have been cultivated for ornamental use only, so if you want your tree to produce cherries be sure to ask your local garden centre for the correct one.

There is something magical about the frothy pink and white displays produced by cherry blossoms, their delicate flowers and colouring appeal and they come in various shapes and sizes so it’s possible to find one to suit most gardens.

They can be used as a specimen tree, planted in groups to create a copse, or even in lines to create an avenue or driveway to a house.

Q. I have a new garden and I would love to grow a cherry blossom but someone told me that when the blossoms fall they are not very interesting for the rest of the year. Is this true?

A. No, this is far from true, many varieties have year-round interest. They have delicate spring blossoms, summer leaf colour and brilliantly coloured autumn foliage and can be spreading, weeping or upright in habit. One of my favourite varieties called Prunus serrula is grown for its polished deep reddish brown bark, which looks amazing against its white blossoms in spring and equally good in late winter sunshine when the tree is leafless.

Q. I would like to grow a cherry blossom as a focal point in my front garden but my garden is quite small measuring 5m by 6m can you recommend a suitable one.

A. Prunus amanogawa is an upright tree that reaches a spread of 12 feet after many years. It has pale pink fragrant blossoms in spring and nice autumn colour, so this would be suitable if you are looking for an upright tree. Prunus cerasifera ‘Cheal’s Weeping’ is a lovely weeping variety that produces double bright pink flowers before the leaves appear in spring, its maximum height and spread is 3m.

Q. My neighbour has a tree that looks like a cherry blossom but it begins to flower in autumn, could this be a cherry blossom.

A. It could indeed, it is more than likely the Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’, a tree that flowers during mild periods between autumn and spring. It is one of the few winter flowering deciduous trees found in Ireland, and it’s weeping version, Prunus ‘Pendula Rosea’ can look spectacular when covered in pink blossoms on a mild winter’s day.

If you have any gardening questions, visit: www.thepavilion.ie, facebook.com/thepavilioncork, or via twitter @the_pavilion


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