12 April 2009

Discussion in 'Vancouver Cherry Blog' started by Douglas Justice, Apr 12, 2009.

  1. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Well-Known Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    Vancouver, Canada
    This year, it seems like it’s either feast or famine when it comes to blossoms. Now that it has warmed up (and raining), all of the early and mid-season cultivars are out. The cherry scouts have reported on a number of cultivars, and depending on where you look around Metro Vancouver, there more than a dozen different cherries in bloom this Easter weekend. My own list includes ‘Accolade’, ‘Akebono’, ‘Autumnalis Rosea’, ‘Beni-shidare’, Oshima cherry, ‘Pandora’, Prunus pendula, ‘Rancho’, Sargent cherry, ‘Schmittii’, ‘Snow Fountains’, ‘Somei-yoshino’, ‘Spire’, ‘Takasago’, ‘Umineko’, ‘Whitcomb’ and ‘Yae-beni-shidare’, not to mention all of the trees we’ve yet to identify (our mystery trees). I think it’s going to be a good year after all.

    ‘Accolade’ has finally opened its blooms, a full two months later than usual. This is a tree I’ve had a love-hate relationship with for years. It’s hard to get over its maddening propensity for infection by brown rot, which typically kills off leading twigs in the early spring, causing a proliferation of branching behind the dead tips, which themselves often die back in subsequent years. On the other hand, I’ve never been unmoved by the beauty of its deliciously double pink flowers. This year, flowering seems terribly spotty, and I suspect that some of the earlier opening buds were frosted, much like those of ‘Jugatsu-zakura’ and ‘Autumnalis Rosea’. What I’m most curious about is how ‘Whitcomb’, a selection of the early blooming Higan cherry (Prunus × subhirtella), managed to avoid having its buds frosted off.

    Clearly, there are many more cherries to talk about, but one of my favourites is 'Pandora' (image, below). I’m not sure why it isn’t a popular cultivar. The pretty little flowers are borne in amazing profusion, and the tree is such an accommodating upright shape. Then again, I think I might know the answer. Nurseries tend to graft cherries high up on mazzard (Prunus avium) rootstock and ‘Pandora’ is a slight grower compared with mazzard, and hence, somewhat incompatible. You can see the incompatibility as a distortion in the stem at the graft union on older trees. Speaking of grafting, I notice in some of the postings that scouts assume that because they can’t see a graft union high on the stem, that the trees aren’t grafted; however, some nurseries make their grafts near ground level. Low grafting can solve a few of the problems (or at least hide them), but trees that grow on their own roots are always going to be healthier than grafted plants. I’m convinced that ‘Pandora’ and most other cherries can be propagated without grafting. UBC Botanical Garden is planning to try this out with as many cultivars as we can get. Watch this space for updates.

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    Last edited: Apr 13, 2009

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