Magazine article Sunset

"Weak and Puny" ... but Welcome in Winter

Magazine article Sunset

"Weak and Puny" ... but Welcome in Winter

Article excerpt

"Weak and puny' . . . but welcome in winter

Like single-issue candidates, the flowering cherry known as Prunus subhirtella "Autumnalis' owes its popularity to one virtue, a blooming season that starts as the last autumn leaves are turning and continues in fits and starts through winter.

The milder the weather and the more sheltered the trees, the better the bloom. For this reason, "Autumnalis' cherry blossoms are safer west of the Sierra, though trees grow in all but the coldest areas east of the mountains.

Don't expect flowers as large or colorful as those on later-flowering cherries. As English horticulturist Hugh Johnson wrote about this 80-year-old variety, "One can forgive the flowers their weak color and puny size when they are the only ones in the garden.'

The two trees pictured above in a Tacoma, Washington, garden were planted bare-root in 1972. They've bloomed well every year since, peaking between Thanksgiving and Christmas but giving a final flush of bloom around the first of March. …

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