GARDENING: Turning Japanese – prepare for May blossom

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ONE of the prettiest sights of the year is “May blossom” – and now’s the perfect time to plant the trees.

Flowering cherries, crab apples and plums all fit the bill and can give a very Japanese feel to a garden.

With their pink and white frothy blossom, they have always been a beautiful signpost of late spring, but sadly very ephemeral.

I’ve had a dwarf weeping flowering cherry with double pink flowers for 20 years in the front garden.

It’s truly lovely in flower, but so frustrating when the blossom’s battered by heavy rain and high winds.

The blooms were there for barely a week last year, before being blown down the street like pink confetti.

I also have the crab apple John Downie, which has now been in a year. It’s still very small, but managed a good display of blossoms, fruit and autumn colour. I’d recommend it.

It’s very easy to be seduced into buying a flowering tree, but my advice is to buy a variety that gives you interest in other seasons, so it really earns its keep.

Here’s three recommendation from the Royal Horticultural Society. They all have a weeping habit, are deciduous and their maximum height is 2.5-4m, so they’re suitable for small gardens.

•Flowering cherry Kiku-shidare-zakura, with the branches arching from the trunk. Leaves are bronze when young, later glossy green. Flowers are fully double, rich pink, to 3.5cm wide, in late spring.

•Single pink weeping cherry (Prunus × subhirtella Pendula Rubra), with arching, pendulous branches. Ovate leaves turn orange and red in autumn. Flowers single, deep rose-pink from redder buds.

•Crab apple Malus Red Jade, with white flowers opening from pink buds, followed by small, shiny red fruits in autumn/winter, with good autumn colour.

For stockists or to check what will grow in your garden, log on to www.rhs.org.uk/plant selector.

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