This month, as spring looms on the horticultural horizon, our gardening guru Victoria Truman suggests it’s time to invest in some pretty flowering trees
Why plant spring blossoming trees? They herald the end of a long winter with their confectionery, pastel flowers which entice bees and insects with their nectar and quite frankly fill the heart with joy! I for one love seeing the spring blossoms emerge as the weather turns warmer and the days get longer.
Here are some of my favourites:
Amelanchier arborea Robin Hill (Juneberry): A lovely choice, especially for a feature tree in your garden, the Amelanchier usually blossoms in early spring. Small off-white flowers emerge from blush pink buds, completely covering the tree. I have planted many of these in clients’ gardens and it never fails to impress! The Amelanchier Robin Hill makes for a wonderful specimen as it has a uniform oval shape with the additional bonus of a vibrant red autumn colour, weather permitting.
Malus Rudolph (Crab Apple): This pink flowering crab apple is probably one of the most impactful trees in early spring! A row of Rudolphs will certainly lift your spirit and if you are looking to really stand out in the blossom stakes this will be the tree for you. There are many pink blossom trees, but Malus Rudolph is cerise pink – something not quite matched by any other flowering cherry. Often overlooked for an avenue tree, these crab apple trees look great planted together, not only in blossom but as the foliage starts to emerge it’s a pretty red before hardening to a deep green.
Crataegus laevigata Pauls Scarlet (Hawthorn): Hawthorns are often dismissed as hedging only; however, they make for nice specimen trees or could be considered for a deciduous hedge. The flowers are small but very frilly, highlighted by tinges of white which extenuate their shape. This hawthorn is also great if you already have a great deal of spring interest in your garden as it does not flower until May time when many other trees’ blossom is long gone. This has recently become very fashionable, since being used on show gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Magnolia Galaxy: Magnolia varieties produce some of the largest flowers as spring blossoms. The Galaxy’s flowers emerge before the foliage and are pink, upright and tulip shaped. It really is pretty to see the large flowers evenly dotted around the skeleton of the tree, and its ascending branches make it a great specimen for a feature tree.
Malus Evereste (Crab Apple): A white flowering crab apple, the blossom begins as pink buds before opening out into white flowers. Just as profuse as the Rudolph, there isn’t really a comparison between the white and pink, so why not have one of each? What the Evereste does offer is a better display of crab apples. They are orange in colour and this variety usually holds onto them into December, making it stand out at what can often be dreary time of year. Keeping fairly small at maturity, only up to around 7m, it is suitable for most sized gardens and a better choice for a flowering tree on clay soil provided it is free draining.
Prunus Kanzan (Flowering Cherry): For some showy flowers, the Kanzan with its covering of pink blousy blossom is great. The look of this tree in the spring is comparable to a candy floss stick completely covered with these small pink flowers. The overall tree makes a fairly large specimen, not necessarily in height, its spread can be as wide as the tree is tall so it is a good idea to give the tree room to reach its full potential. Often people assume autumn colour has to be red but the Kanzan’s leaves turn more of an orange in the winter before falling, which is arguably just a vibrant.
Prunus Shirotae (Flowering Cherry): Another cherry, this one has brilliant white blossom. Like many white flowering trees, the buds are initially pink before the white flower emerges. Following the blossom, its foliage is a coppery colour before hardening to a green. As it matures the tree starts to form an open and gently weeping habit, not quite as pendulous as the Cheals Weeping but it is worth bearing in mind when planting as this will limit space underneath the tree.
Light bulb moment
Whether your garden is large or small, a container filled with any of these bulbs creates a chic and contemporary look. Flowering from mid-summer onwards, the late flush of colour they provide extends the season just as many other plants are starting to fade. These versatile plants are well suited to modern styles, but equally fitting in traditional or cottage-style planting schemes. Plant them in groups in full sun or partial shade. They also attract bees:
Calla lilies (zantedeschia)
Jobs for March
Spring usually arrives by mid-March and the frequent sunny days provide the opportunity for an increasing range of gardening tasks.
1 Protect new spring shoots from slugs
2 Plant shallots, onion sets and early potatoes
3 Plant summer-flowering bulbs
4 Lift and divide overgrown clumps of perennials
5 Top dress containers with fresh compost
6 Mow the lawn on dry days (if needed)
7 Cut back cornus (dogwood) and salix
8 Hoe and mulch weeds to keep them under control early
9 Start feeding fish and using the pond fountain; remove pond heaters
10 Prune bush and climbing roses