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Varieties of native ornamental cherries

March is the time when early ornamental cherries start coming out in blossom (in  previous blogs we’ve highlighted some of the earliest of these varieties). While there are an abundance of lovely ornamental cherry trees to choose from, we’d like to introduce you to two particularly pleasing cherry trees that you may not be so familiar with:

Prunus avium Plena – the double white flowering variety of wild cherry

Prunus avium Plena Prunus avium Plena

This is a medium-sized tree that eventually reaches a height of 8-12m. It has a 4-6m spread with a rounded and regularly branched crown. While it has glossy bark and leaves turn orange-yellow in the autumn, it is arguably more attractive in the spring, with pendulous bundles of double snow-white flowers in April to early May.

The flowers are sterile, and hence do not produce fruit. Generally undemanding of soil type as long as it is well drained, this ornamental cherry is chalk tolerant and an ideal park and avenue tree that also suits medium to large gardens.

While not as flamboyant as some of the Japanese ornamental cherries, we recommend Prunus avium Plena as a stunning, graceful tree which will fit neatly into a naturalistic garden or a woodland setting.

Prunus padus Watereri bird cherry

Prunus padus Watereri Prunus padus Watereri

A fast growing cherry tree, Prunus padus Watereri ultimately reaches a 10m height and spread. One of its most distinct characteristics are its unusual, fragrant white flowers, which appear in May and hang in long pendulous racemes. This tree’s blue-ish green coloured matt leaves also transform into a fine shade of yellow in autumn.

Managing to be very hardy and tolerant of a wide range of soil types, Prunus can also tolerate temporary drought as well as wetter soils, this tree can cope where other cherry trees may not thrive.

The tree produces pea sized cherries in late summer that, while edible, tend to have a bitter taste, hence the cherries are usually reserved for use in preserves in some parts of Europe.

Nevertheless, as a long-lasting medium to large ornamental cherry tree, Prunus padus Watereri can ultimately be used to great effect in amenity plantings, large gardens and in open naturalistic settings.

As ever, if these native ornamental cherries are of interest, please feel free to contact us for more information and advice!

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