(obviously, with apologies to Anton Chekhov) After two weeks of chilly temperatures (for Vancouver), I decided to get outside and look at the BC Landscape Plant Improvement Association (virus-free cherry) Orchard again. The BCLPIA site at UBC is windswept, or as windy as any place at UBC can be. Taking pictures here is always challenging. It’s close enough to Point Grey’s western escarpment that the cooling effects of the ocean breezes are keenly felt, especially in winter and early spring. As I’ve said before, plants at UBC are generally a week or more behind, compared with their kind almost anywhere else in Vancouver. It’s great to have an orchard filled with correctly named cultivars, but I always feel that I’m always playing catch-up with cherry identifications made elsewhere in the Lower Mainland. Nevertheless, I was able to get a few snaps this week and should report that the putative ‘Pandora’ I was raving about last week is definitely ‘Pandora’, and that ‘Okame’ from the week before is indeed ‘Okame’. The orchard itself sits in the middle of an open field, three long north-south tending rows on the west and five on the east. To be honest, the plantings don’t look like much. The trees are closely spaced in the rows and they’re grafted mostly on ‘Colt’ understock, which has a strong dwarfing influence. Imagine a ‘Kanzan’ no more than about ten feet tall. Hmmm, maybe we’ve got something here... The orchard was planted with cherries beginning in the mid 1970s. Most of the cultivars came from the East Malling Research Station in England and were virus-indexed and/or cleaned up (virus removed by heat treatment) at a facility run by the federal agriculture department (Agriculture Canada--now Canadian Food Inspection Agency) near Victoria, BC. When the orchard was functioning, BCLPIA member nurseries paid for scions that they harvested, and for periodic virus-indexing of the stock. As well, individuals from a number of local nurseries helped to maintain the trees by pruning for better scion production, for flower removal to reduce the incidence of pollen-borne virus transmission, and also by occasional weed control. Timely de-flowering and regular virus-indexing has fallen by the wayside, and scion harvesting has pretty much dried up. UBC Botanical Garden, the default stewards of the orchard, haven't adequate resources for its proper maintenance, and it remains to be seen what will happen to this area of the campus (housing development, in all probability). There is an interesting assortment of cultivars in the orchard, including both ‘Snowdrop’ and ‘Snofozam’ (Snow Fountains™), which seem indistinguishable to me, at least at the bud stage. Judging from the moderate incidence of brown rot on their stems, their red and slightly bulbous calyx tubes, red sepals and near glabrous pedicels, I could be convinced they were merely white weeping selections of P. pendula, though the stems do seem a bit beefier than a typical thread cherry. These cultivars, as well as ‘Spire’, ‘Somei-yoshino’, ‘Akebono’ ‘Shosar’, 'Rancho' (late!) and x schmittii look to be emerging in the next week or so. I noticed a few open flowers on one of 12 trees labelled ‘Beni-fugen’. According to Kuitert (Japanese Flowering Cherries), this is a synonym of ‘Daikoku’. I’d love this to be true, but I’m certain that it isn’t. ‘Daikoku’ is a late blooming cultivar much like an upright ‘Pink Perfection’. This tree has lax, slender stems and semi-double pink flowers. I might have taken it for an ‘Accolade’ except that the flowers weren’t sufficiently cupped and there was no evidence of earlier flowering. Even in this cold field, the ‘Accolade’ and ‘Whitcomb’ have been flowering for a month. Also of interest to me are the lovely flowering understocks of some of the dead and dying P. pendula and P. Ã— subhirtella trees. I would guess that the understock is an easy rooter (assuming it's a clonal rootstock), like P. Ã— subhirtella, but it's lighter pink and more delicate than 'Whitcomb'. I’m waiting for a dry, calm day to photograph all of these mysteries.