Huddersfield Daily Examiner - - FRONT PAGE -

PRING never lets you down. Ever year, no mat­ter how harsh the win­ter has been, it even­tu­ally gives over to a time of ex­u­ber­ant flow­er­ing. It doesn’t mat­ter what your own gar­den looks like, es­pe­cially if you haven’t had a chance to get out yet, our green and pleas­ant land will soon start to sparkle.

One of the first places this hap­pens is trees – stems and branches that have been grey for months sud­denly burst forth with mag­i­cal pro­fu­sions of colour.

Trees are good for us – they clean the air, pro­duce oxy­gen and then pro­vide the joy of colour, none more so than the spring flow­er­ing trees. Over the next two months cherry, plum and ap­ple trees will put on their an­nual show. In Ja­pan, this sea­son is cel­e­brated ev­ery year with the Hanami fes­ti­val – peo­ple pic­nic un­der the blos­som trees and spend time with fam­ily ad­mir­ing na­ture at its best.

It is one of na­ture’s events that can be all too fleet­ing so it’s good to take time out to en­joy the blos­soms. Visit your lo­cal park or walk around the neigh­bour­hood over the next month so you can en­joy them be­fore they are gone.

Bet­ter still, plant one in your own gar­den.

The flow­er­ing cher­ries are vast in va­ri­ety but it’s best to choose wisely for the av­er­age-sized gar­den as some need a lot of space with their broad canopies.

Prunus ‘Lit­tle Pink Per­fec­tion’ is a gor­geous dwarf cherry with showy pink blos­soms and would be happy in a con­tainer. ‘Amanogawa’ is the slim up­right ver­sion – not to every­one’s taste but fan­tas­tic in lim­ited space. For an el­e­gant weep­ing ver­sion for a small space, Cheal’s weep­ing cherry is good.

In May our hedgerows will be re­plete with white flow­er­ing hawthorn. There’s a lovely cul­ti­vated ver­sion called Paul’s Scar­let which has pretty red­dish pink dou­ble blos­soms and forms a neat rounded tree, ideal in a lawn or front gar­den.

The bril­liant thing about the cratae­gus genus is that they will grow in most soils, as­pects and in sun or shade, by the sea or the in­ner city.

The snowy mespilus, Ame­lanchier lamar­ckii Bal­le­rina, is ei­ther grown as a small tree or a multi-stemmed shrub.

Ei­ther way, it’s an el­e­gant spec­i­men with lots of large white flow­ers in spring and grows to around 4.5m. It also earns its keep by putting on a vi­brant au­tum­nal dis­play It prefers neu­tral to acidic soil. Prunus mume Beni-chi­dori is the Ja­panese apri­cot and it’s a de­light­ful early per­former with deep pink al­mond-scented flow­ers on bare stems. How­ever, the harsh tem­per­a­tures and frosts this year will have been tough for it so it’s best planted with a lit­tle bit of shel­ter. I’ve been check­ing the grey hairy buds of my mag­no­lia Leonard Mes­sel – they don’t look dam­aged and I can’t wait for their fab­u­lous dis­play. This va­ri­ety is ex­cel­lent be­cause it is less af­fected by frost dam­age than other mag­no­lias and re­mains a com­pact over­all size. Its flow­ers are large, pink and scented, mak­ing this a mag­no­lia of beauty. I’m also look­ing for­ward to see­ing how the fairy mag­no­lia does this spring as I only planted it last year. This is a new in­tro­duc­tion, an ev­er­green shrub with lots of buds along the stems, mak­ing it an ex­tremely free flow­er­ing va­ri­ety. Fi­nally, crab ap­ples are one of the best trees for small gar­dens, pro­vid­ing good all-year-round in­ter­est in blos­som and fruit. They don’t cast too much shade and are good for wildlife.

Favourites here in­clude ‘Ever­este’ which has white flow­ers fol­lowed by or­ange fruit that can stay on the tree un­til De­cem­ber, and ‘Ru­dolphe’ which has rosy pink flow­ers paired with ju­ve­nile pur­ple fo­liage.

Brog­dale, home of the na­tional fruit tree col­lec­tion in Faver­sham, Kent, cel­e­brates Hanami in April, invit­ing you to pic­nic and tour the or­chards. If you visit on April 14 you can en­joy a full Ja­panese ex­pe­ri­ence.

It will be show­cas­ing Ja­panese cul­tural de­mos in­clud­ing drum­ming and sword dis­plays and a Ja­panese tea cer­e­mony. Guests can try cal­lig­ra­phy and origami, tour the or­chards and buy Ja­panese food.

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