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Plants from the Ground Up

Flowering Cherries – A gift from Japan

As spring approaches, I find myself fervently anticipating the Cherry blossoms. The first swelling of the buds creates an eagerness for the coming blooms. I impatiently wait as the buds swell to the ‘popcorn’ stage and finally I celebrate the open flowers; another spring to rejoice in.

Prunus matsumae 'Beni-Yutaka' FLOWERING CHERRY

Prunus matsumae ‘Beni-Yutaka’
FLOWERING CHERRY

I am not alone in this revelry. The Japanese have held the cherry blossom as sacred for centuries. The blossoms are called sakura and they represent the impermanence of life. Like life, the blossoms are beautiful, yet the season is woefully short. Cherry blossoms represent both birth and death. Sakura emblems adorned the planes of the kamikaze pilots. Spirits are also said to inhabit some ancient cherry trees. Across Japan these special trees are marked with twisted ropes called shimenawa.

In 1912 the mayor of Tokyo, Yukio Ozaki, gifted the city of Washington D.C with 3,000 flowering cherry trees. The trees where given as a symbol of the lasting friendship between our two nations. Today this lasting gift has become the nations most awaited springtime celebration. Over a million and a half people come to watch the trees bloom every spring. If you can’t make it to D.C., you can watch the upcoming bloom on the Cherry Blossom Cam web site. 

Flowering cherries are not just beautiful in the spring season. These spectacular trees provide four-season interest as well. After their bloom, the trees put on a lush coat of bright-green summer leaves. The foliage turns shades of yellow to red (depending on the cultivar) for a lovely autumn show. The bark of flowering cherries is a pretty auburn color that shows up well in the winter, especially against a backdrop of snow.

Plant these trees in an open sunny site which is not exposed to harsh winds. Prunus prefer well-drained soils and consistent moisture; they do not perform well with drought or wet feet. Once established these gorgeous trees require little care. Pruning is not necessary unless shaping is desired. Plant a flowering cherry now to celebrate spring for years to come!

Prunus ‘Beni Hoshi’

Beni Hoshi (meaning Pink Star) is a clear reference to the multitudes of small, light pink, star-like blooms with distinctively twisted petals. This lovely small tree eventually becomes a gracefully arching umbrella-shaped tree to 20-25 feet tall with an equally wide spread. ‘Beni Hoshi’ is winter hardy to USDA zone 5.

Prunus ‘Beni Hoshi’ FLOWERING CHERRY

Prunus ‘Beni Hoshi’
FLOWERING CHERRY

 

Prunus ‘Kwanzan’

Masses of deep-pink, fully double blossoms cover this cultivar in spring. This delicate looking vase-shaped tree reaches 20-30 feet tall. This is the cultivar planted in East Potomac Park in Washington D.C. ‘Kwanzan’ is USDA winter hardy to zone 5.

Prunus ‘Kwanzan’ PINK FLOWERING CHERRY

Prunus ‘Kwanzan’
PINK FLOWERING CHERRY

 

Prunus ‘Beni-Yutaka’

Finely textured deep-pink double blossoms emerge from large dark-pink buds on this incredibly beautiful form. This cultivar makes a fine addition to any garden with its upright in habit to 20-25 feet. ‘Beni-Yutaka’ is winter hardy to USDA zone 6.

Prunus matsumae 'Beni-Yutaka' FLOWERING CHERRY

Prunus matsumae ‘Beni-Yutaka’
FLOWERING CHERRY

 

Prunus ’Yoshino’

This is the cultivar at the center of the glorious Cherry Blossom festival in Washington. Almond-scented, double flowers open pink-to-white on an elegant 20-40’ tree.  This tree is stunning as a specimen and breath-taking planted en masse. ’Yoshino’ is winter hardy to USDA zone 6.

Prunus yedoensis ‘Yoshino’ FLOWERING CHERRY

Prunus yedoensis ‘Yoshino’
FLOWERING CHERRY

For more photos and information, see ‘Flowering Cherry’ at the Forestfarm Store.

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