Firstly, which tree to choose? We do so well for trees here in the UK.
|A. lamarckii leaf buds about to unfurl|
There's a huge, mature and gloriously swooping willow on the Heath by the path to the duck ponds, lots of activity and dog walking going on nearby, plus the occasional art installation …
Then there's the poor lopped off plane trees under my window. They were severely pruned in late Autumn last year. Will they resprout? Will the robins return? Will the ivy survive? And what of the garden that they're in? We might never know …
|The canopy of these London Planes completely shaded this garden in past years.|
Also under consideration is my urban orchard; eight fruit trees planted as one-year old bareroots in December 2009, this is their sixth year in the veg patch. A specially-developed-for-London apple tree joined the patch in January 2013, making nine trees. I really feel I should get to know them better. They were covered in buds in March and I honestly can't tell a leaf bud from a fruit bud plus there's the whole pruning for fruit thing. Worthy of a closer look? I've also just added a quince tree to this collection. I haven't grown quince before so if excitement levels are a measure of tree following worthiness, this would be the one.
|Tangled branches of Ulmus glabra.|
Being realistic, the trees I see on a daily basis are my fruit trees so I'm going to follow these. I know I should pick one but as an orchard they all contribute to the garden.
|Mid border looking south: two apple trees, two pears and a cherry in the corner.|
There are two of these trees; one I dug up and moved to another corner plot a couple of years ago, this one stayed put; both are doing really well. It was grafted onto dwarfing rootstock and, bizarrely, this rootstock grew a couple of stems. After a couple of years, I was fairly confident this leafy growth was not contributing anything to the cherry tree and chopped off the usurping stems. They still sprout leaves from time to time, and I'm enjoying the greenery this year but think it should really be pruned off. You can see this in the photo below which also shows the plants surrounding the tree: day lilies and ivy to the right, Jacob's Ladder (pulmonaria) and rosemary to the left. The metal spire was for the clematis to climb up but it's making its own way up the tree! (nb. must tie it in!)
I love the bark on prunus trees, this one is no exception being a deep bronze. Like some Silver Birch trees, the young bark peels off to reveal a beautiful surface underneath. I don't know if this is standard for cherry trees, I'm certainly enjoying the effect on this one!
One other point of interest about this tree: a couple of years ago, I found a tiny plant growing out of the soil under the tree. I assumed it was a sycamore or such like and was about to pull it up when I saw a split cherry pip by the tiny plant. I carefully transplanted the tiny tree to care for it on my balcony and then replanted it a year later. That was a couple of years ago. The tiny tree is now about 13 inches high; I'll probably have to plant it into it's final place at the end of this year so that it can grow big and strong away from its parent.
|May 2012, just a seedling. March 2014 coming back to life; April 2014 in leaf.|
|Looking up into the canopy of blossom - look at all those potential cherries!|
PS. The apple blossom is looking pretty special too at the moment!