Prunus ‘Akebono’ (Yoshino cherry) flowering cherry is a small deciduous tree boasting masses of large shell pink semi-double blossoms with a slightly almond fragrance. Photo submitted

SPRING IN THE GARDEN: Cherry blossoms a sure sign of spring on Vancouver Island

Ellen Presley

Special to the Record

The cherry blossom is an eternal symbol of renewal and hope and a reminder that life is fragile and precious. Sakura is the Japanese name for the ornamental cherry blossom. Their spectacular beauty is short lived, often only lasting a few weeks reminding us that life is precious and should be lived well. Cherry blossoms have inspired poets, artist, emperors, samurais and the common folk for more than 1,000 years. There is a legend that each spring, a fairy maiden hovers low in the warm spring sky and awakens the sleeping cherry trees to life with her delicate breath.

Prunus ‘Akebono’ (Yoshino cherry) flowering cherry is a small deciduous tree boasting masses of large shell pink semi-double blossoms with a slightly almond fragrance. The blooms gradually fade to white as they fully open displaying an outstanding profusion of delicate petals forming an exquisite canopy. The ethereal beauty is breathtaking. As the petals mature they fall to the ground like a light snow fall and then as if by magic, the next wind whisks them away.

The ‘Akebono’ is a cultivar of the Yoshino cherry and was brought to North America back to the late 1800s. It grows to 25 feet tall and wide and thrives in the full sun and moist but well drained soil. It makes a fabulous specimen plant for your garden and is one of the best and most disease-resistant. Even after the blossoms are over, you are treated to dark glossy green leaves during the summer which turn yellow with orange highlights in the fall. The bark is very distinctive and the black drupes are an important food source for many small birds, such as robins, cardinals and waxwings.

Another award winning favorite is Prunus ‘Shirofugen’(30’) which has large fragrant double flowers (two inches across) and displays clusters of three to seven flowers along each branch. Each blossom opens white with a tinge of pink and then changes to a deep pink before shedding its petals. The leaves change color, as they emerge coppery red, then turn green in the summer, and then they become a bronze green and finally orange in the fall.

There are many cultivars of cherry trees and ornamental flowering plums and pears. They all produce exquisite blossoms and remind us of the beauty that surrounds us. The cherry blossom reminds us of our mortality and how important it is to cherish the moment for life is fleeting.

Happy gardening.

Ellen Presley is the owner of Anderton Nursery, at 2012 Anderton Rd., Comox. Visit andertonnursery.ca

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