One of the most iconic sights of spring is a profusion of spring blossom trees.
The plant genus prunus is one of the most important when it comes to spring blossom trees. It offers a wide selection of ornamental flowering trees that provide some of the most spectacular displays.
Depending on the species, there is an ornamental prunus suitable for temperate to cold climates. Their adaptability and relatively small stature make them ideal for smaller gardens or perfect for avenue plantings in larger gardens.
Prunus flower in a range of colours and hues with white, pink, red and crimson tones in single and double flowering forms, with a range of flower sizes up to about 20 millimetres in diameter.
It is the profusion of blooms and not the individual flower size that makes prunus a standout in the garden. The size and shape of the trees is diverse, and includes vase, columnar, domed, and weeping shapes.
Foliage colour is an important consideration as blossom trees will only be in bloom for a relatively short period. For the remainder of the year trees will be either in foliage or displaying their skeletal framework of branches during the winter months.
Some of the more interesting foliage forms display deep burgundy colours, such as prunus cerasifera "nigra" a small, ornamental flowering plum with very dark purple summer foliage carried on dark branches and single shell-pink flowers in spring, which make a spectacular display.
This is a great selection as a foliage contrast tree for smaller gardens and will perform well in temperate and cold climates alike.
Of all spring blossom trees, the flowering cherry is the most desirable. For centuries the Japanese have cultivated cherry trees and hold Sakura or cherry blossom season in high esteem, to the point where it has become an international event.
In many Australian gardens with a cold climate, weeping cherry is grown for its cascade of delicate pale pink flowers that form an umbrella over the trunk and branches.
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In regions not suitable for cherry blossom, ornamental plums as suitable alternative.
The ephemeral nature of the spring blooms of ornamental deciduous trees are a stark reminder that life is short, and every moment of its beauty should be cherished.
- John Gabriele is a horticulture teacher with a love for green spaces.