By Steve Smith Sunnyside Nursery
If March was yellow, then surely April is white and pink
Last month I declared that the month should be remembered for all the yellow flowering plants. Granted, other colors of flowers were present but yellow in my estimation seemed to dominate our landscapes. This month I have to say that what I see mostly is white and pink. Here are some examples.
Flowering plums — the ubiquitous Thundercloud Plum that lines many city streets is really a cross over tree since its bloom period often spans both March and early April although most years when it doesn’t rain twice the normal rainfall for the month the Thunderclouds will be bloomed out by April. Their cotton candy pink flowers are consistently mistaken for flowering cherries but who cares, they are lovely and a delight to see.
Flower pears — immediately after the plums finish up the ornamental pears start to strut their stuff with their Clorox white flowers. You can find these upright, oval shaped pear trees in many parking lots and in parking strips everywhere. They are the consummate street tree since the limbs form a tight globe and don’t overhang the roadways. If you like flowering pears but need something a bit smaller then try Jack, a dwarf pear that only gets around 12 feet tall. I have two growing on the corner of the nursery that I planted 3 years ago that look very stately.
Flower cherries — April is THE MONTH for flowering cherries. Back in the late ’80s when I first purchased the nursery we sold almost a dozen different varieties of flowering cherries from the early blooming Autumnalis and Whitcombi to the late spring blooming Shogetsu and Shirofugen. Most are pink bloomers but one outstanding white one is called Mt. Fiji. Probably the showiest pink one is Kwanzan with its very double pink blooms later this month. Probably my favorite is a pale pink fading to white variety called Yoshino and its cousin Akebono.
Flowering almonds, peaches and apricots — these are mostly shrubs with fully double flowers that unfortunately are so diseased for our maritime climate the we don’t sell them and you will be hard pressed to find them anywhere other than a mail order catalogue. I grew up with these plants in northern California and they are truly lovely but in my opinion not worth the effort here. Having said this, I am sure there is some gardener out there that has managed to succeed with them so give me a shout out if it is you.
Just so you are not confused, all the trees above are ornamental non-fruiting varieties. I am not talking about the fruit berries versions of the above selections. Fruit trees have lovely blooms too and my Asian pears and Frost Peach in my back yard both are gorgeous as we speak but I wouldn’t think of planting them in a parking strip or even the front yard where the fruit would make a mess and my pruning techniques would render them unattractive as a specimen in my landscape.
Magnolias — oh, there are so many fabulous Magnolias to choose from starting with the earliest blooming Star Magnolia (which is pretty much finished) to all the saucer varieties (sometimes called Tulip trees. Refer to my 4-5-2006 column on my website sunnysidenursery.net for more about that topic). Currently my favorite is Felix Jury which sports huge 9-12 inch across dark pink blooms that are intensely fragrant. Black Tulip isn’t too shabby either nor is Vulcan, both of which are a deep purple/pink.
Finally, my UW educated landscaper friend Emile van Den Akker reminded me that both our native Indian Plum and Service Berry are blooming white this month and well worth incorporating into our gardens. By the end of this month I should also be able to add flowering crabapples which should just about cover every conceivable form of flowering ornamental non-fruiting tree known to man.