Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Plant profile: Prunus cerasifera

February 2010
Way back in the dawn of humanity, Caltrans planted some Monterey pines at P. Garden, along with a lot of ivy (boo, hiss). Many aeons passed, and one day Annelle went out and said “lo – these trees don’t look so hot” She told Caltrans who concurred, diagnosing a plague of malicious beetle that was killing the trees. So they came out the next day and chopped them down without so much as a how d’you do.
In order to mitigate the barren wasteland left over, they planted three Cherry Plum trees. By the time P. Garden was started the trees were well established. Leah came and pruned them into submission, and they have been fairly well behaved ever since.

Latin name: Prunus cerasifera ("PROO-nus ser-ass-IFF-er-ah")
Common name: Cherry Plum, Myrobalan Plum
Originally from: central and eastern Europe, southwest and central Asia.
Blooms: January-February finds this tree covered in fragrant pale pink flowers.
Light: Likes full sun
Water: Once established, no extra water is required.
Where to find in P. Garden: Three of them can be seen in a group at the top left of the garden.

February 2013
“As with all the purple-leaved plums, this tree has been used to the point of monotony in landscapes.” Well, as the author of that quote points out they are common, but if you head to the garden now they’re just beginning to flower and nobody can deny it’s a very pretty effect. Gardening clich├ęs come about because the plants that fall foul of overuse are tough, easy to maintain, and pretty, so everyone wants them. Is that really a bad thing?

This reminds me of another saying I like to repeat from up on my high horse: “Always remember you’re unique. Just like everyone else.” Take that, hater of monotony! Anyway, if these trees do become seriously tiresome it’s worth noting that they only live about 20 years, and I estimate we’ve got about 10 to go.

There are a number of cultivars of this tree, and ours could easily be any of them – “Pissardii” “Thundercloud” and “Nigra” seem most likely. These purple-foliage forms (often called Purple leaf plum), also have dark purple fruit, which make an attractive, intensely colored jam.

February 2010
I haven’t tried the fruit – they’re hard to make out among the dark leaves and anyway, probably covered in freeway dirt. I let the birds have them!

Although the area below these trees looks a bit ratty now, the plants there which are slowly getting ready to become beautiful are ones that I hope will pick up on the pink/white/burgundy theme. White flowering Iberis sempervirens, dusty pink Alstroemerias, a ring of pink Amaryllis belladonna bulbs and some daffodils, a couple of pink-flowered Geranium macrorrhizumAchillea “Summer Pastels" and a pink bush Impatiens with variegated Glechoma hederacea as groundcover. Squint your eyes with me - it could be quite pretty in the summer!

2 comments:

  1. It already looks like summer in that patch--very pretty. That prunus is also starting to flower in the not-quit-frozen north, Scotland and Wales.

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  2. I hope when the Acilleas fill in with will really look nice!

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