Friday, 29 April 2011

Amelanchier Blossom...

This is that wonderful time of year when hedgerows, woods, orchards and gardens explode into exuberant blossom. First off the mark are the snow white drifts of Blackthorn threading their thick lines through the countryside, soon followed by the wild white clouds of damson. Plums too, for fruit or garden ornament swiftly follow.

Then it is the Cherries, my favorite being the native or wild ‘Bird Cherry’, the ‘Gean’ of our woodlands. This big, fast growing tree with loose clusters of single flowers will later provide feasts of bitter fruit adored by the birds. The widespread suburban plantings of smaller Japanese Cherries, lining housing estate roads and house drives are certainly eye-catching too. Their dense clumps of double flowers in shades of white, cream and bright pink completely hide the branches. Stunning to see, but to my mind they are perhaps just a little too full, too highly bred, too over the top.

Adding to this perfect storm of blossom are the Apples, whose often pretty pink buds open out white to entice in the bees, the all important pollinators each tree competes in beauty to attract. Then, rounding off this spring season of delights, hedgerow hawthorns burst into bloom, lighting up lanesides with their frothing clouds of white blossom. Usually seen at a distance, or driven past at speed, the individual flowers are actually quite beautiful and strongly scented too.
Everything seems to happen so fast at this time of year... No sooner do these delicate flowers begin to open than those first out start to drop. Their lifespans can be counted over just a couple of days before their petals blow away like confetti in the wind or flutter down to create colorful drifts in the grass. Perhaps it is their ephemeral nature that make springtime blossom so precious.

My favourite blossoming bush or small tree of the moment, however would be the ‘Snowy Mespilus' or ‘Amalanchier’ to give them their scientific name. They are always smothered with delicately spidery white flowers which are set off to perfection against the coppery pink young leaves. Clusters of dark berries develop in early summer and bright reddish autumn colour rounds off the display. They are tough, grow anywhere shrubs, which can be pruned up to form small multi-stemmed trees. Natural beauties for every garden...

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