28 March 2008

Discussion in 'Vancouver Cherry Blog' started by Douglas Justice, Mar 30, 2008.

  1. Douglas Justice

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

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    Last week was an altogether jam-packed week of cherry business. Tuesday’s Cherry Jam was a great success, with fabulous music and poetry (and speeches). I was interviewed on Breakfast Television and spoke for my allotted 2.5 minutes on a few of the most popular of Vancouver’s cultivars: ‘Accolade’, ‘Whitcomb’, ‘Akebono’ and ‘Kanzan’. I wasn’t fast enough to shoe-horn in ‘Shirotae’, but it’s just as well, since I’m sure I would have waxed poetic and been cut off in mid exhortation. Anyway, I probably would’ve mispronounced the name—I’ve been calling it “shir-oh-tay†for years, when it’s correctly “shir-oh-tie†(no accented syllables in Japanese). Other than getting up so early, it was actually a fairly pleasant experience, what with a colonnade of pink ‘Akebono’ buds over our heads and the ethereal sounds of a serenading violinist playing next to us.

    I had another television interview later in the week. Not that I’m complaining. At Cherry Jam, our Cherry Festival Director, Linda Poole, had about four interviews while I was eating lunch. This time, my interview was with Canada AM. I had a very pleasant, rambling sort of chat with my interviewer, walking down a street lined with spectacular ‘Accolade’ cherries. I spoke about the diversity and beauty of cherry trees in Vancouver, how far-sighted the city planners were to create the most extensive (and probably the best) collection of boulevard and park cherries in North America, and how delicious it was to see blossoms in March, knowing that elsewhere in Canada, people were probably digging out from the latest snowfall (evidently I was tempting the Fates! More on that later...). Anyway, I got about 20 seconds of airtime, and you couldn't really tell what the trees were. Oh well. Luckily, Joseph Lin’s earlier interview was aired more extensively in the same segment.

    Not to diminish the glamour and excitement of media interviews, but what really got me going this week was seeing fattening ‘Somei-yoshino’ buds colouring, and being introduced to two more of Vancouver’s unrecognized cherries—at least, unrecognized by me. Wendy Cutler, our indefatigable cherry finder, photographer and scout coordinator, led me to a pair of trees in Kitsilano that were surrounded by question marks. The trees have strongly upright, slender stems that are completely smothered in the most delicate, airy, pale pink single flowers. I’m guessing that they’re ‘Pandora’ cherries. ‘Pandora’ is a modern hybrid from England, reputed to be of Somei-yoshino (Prunus × yedoensis) with Higan cherry (P. × subhirtella). Unfortunately, they’re on private property and a bit crowded, so I’m concerned that they may not last for too many more years.

    The other surprise discovery was made by a cherry scout who, when trolling the west side’s Quilchena Park, found a quartet of beautiful flowering cherries with upright, spreading crowns. She brought in a branch for me to identify and as soon as I saw it, I knew that I’d never seen this cherry before, but that I recognized it, nonetheless. From her description of the size and form of the tree, the earliness of flowering and the prominently contrasting purple-red calyces and pedicels backing single white flowers, I knew immediately that I was looking at a Japanese hill cherry, Prunus speciosa var. spontanea (P. jamasakura). There is an excellent photograph and description of this cherry in the book by Kuitert (Japanese Flowering Cherries).

    Finishing the week, I noticed the old Prunus incisa (Fuji cherry) specimen in the Alpine Garden at UBC opened its flowers just prior to the goopy snowfall on Friday morning. Passing by while the snow was still falling, I noticed the flowers were completely obscured, but a few hours later the tiny drooping flowers, undamaged by cold, seemed to sparkle with an intensity I’ve not seen before.
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Probably more like shi-ro-ta-ay, but with the ta-ay crunched or run together in some way, so that us westerners would approximate it with "tay".

    If there remains some question about the 'Pandora' could they instead be 'Spire'? There are some of those scattered around down here, although they seem to be quite prone to brown rot or a similar condition - this might prevent them from flowering as well as you have described - and perhaps it is too early for them to be full out.
     
  3. Douglas Justice

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

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    Not that any one Japanese person is necessarily an expert, but I was corrected repeatedly on pronunciation of 'Shirotae' by a Japanese newspaper reporter a few weeks ago, and this is also the pronunciation I've heard from other native Japanese speakers.

    The putative 'Pandora' have exquisite flowers on slender, unblemished branches. Almost no sign of leaves at flowering, and note that the flowers fall intact. It certainly suggests Prunus x yedoensis rather than P. sargentii (in terms of possible parents) to me. If this is 'Spire', what's that ratty, awful thing I've been calling 'Spire'?

    Wendy's pictures of this tree are undoubtedly better, but here's a teaser:
     

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  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Looking at an online Japanese pronunciation guide I was reminded "e" would be "eh" and not "ay". Also said "r" would sound more like "d", but if the reporter didn't sound to you like he was saying "shi-doh" then that gives us a contraindication - unless the similarity is too subtle.

    The 'Pandora' here looks like the Japanese hill-cherry of another thread, doesn't surprise me as I think the petal shape and growth habit are probably typical of 'Pandora'. 'Spire' is often a dog down here also, probably more consistently worse than 'Okame' (some of the latter are actually looking pretty good this year - so far).
     
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    As it happens one of the couple I did a garden consultation for today is Japanese:

    "Shi-drro-ta-eh".

    Mentioned that Romanized spelling (and thus pronunciation, I guess) of ending would usually be "ai", but she (as a native Japanese speaker) would pronounce it "a-eh". Her "R" definitely sounded like a "D" running into a rolled "R". Her husband added that the "R" part sounded like it does in Spanish.
     
  6. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    That's the way Mariko taught us to say it on my walk yesterday. We saw enough nice plantings that I finally got it by the time we got to the Japanese memorial, which had only about 3 flowers out total on the 16 trees, but there was a tree on a plaza at Bute and Alberni that was totally in bloom. Alberni Street all along seems to be the hot-spot this year. Someone should build a resort there.
     

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