Our guide to the most beau­ti­ful flow­er­ing trees

Country Living (UK) - - Contents - words by paula mcwa­ters

ev­ery­where you look, trees are be­gin­ning to erupt with a de­li­cious show of flut­ter­ing spring blos­som – it’s such a won­der­ful time of year and even if some flow­ers are fleeting, they are so very worth­while. If you were to choose just one blos­som tree for your own gar­den, what would it be? We asked the ex­perts for some prize rec­om­men­da­tions.

Mag­no­lias put on an op­u­lent dis­play and ex­pert Jim Gardiner, vice president of the RHS, has cho­sen 48 for a new grove of them be­ing un­veiled this month at Borde Hill Gar­den (bor­de­ in Sus­sex. For a fast-grow­ing round-headed tree, he rec­om­mends M. ‘David Clulow’, with large white gob­let flow­ers, flushed pink at the base. Up­right-grow­ing ‘Day­break’ also has dis­tinc­tive coloura­tion – rose-pink with a hint of green – and its flow­ers are of­ten late enough to miss the early spring frosts. An­other of his rec­om­men­da­tions, ‘Daphne’ has eye-catch­ing yel­low flow­ers that come out just be­fore – and then along with – its rich green leaves. Great Comp (great­comp­gar­ in Kent holds a mag­nif­i­cent col­lec­tion, too, and gar­den cu­ra­tor Wil­liam Dyson sin­gles out the compact-grow­ing M. ‘Heaven Scent’, es­pe­cially for a small gar­den, where its

fra­grant pink blooms will make a splash of in­ter­est in mid- to late spring.

Crab ap­ples are un­doubt­edly one of the stars of the spring show, their boughs heavy with frothy, candy-coloured blooms. And that’s just the start of their charms. When the fruit comes, many va­ri­eties pro­vide a fab­u­lous dis­play of colour that con­tin­ues from au­tumn into win­ter. Malus ‘Ever­este’ is a go-to tree for lots of gar­den de­sign­ers, in­clud­ing Arne May­nard, Char­lotte Har­ris and Sam Ovens*. “It is small and very beau­ti­ful with del­i­cate soft-pink buds opening to fra­grant white flow­ers,” Sam says. Fer­gus Gar­rett at Great Dix­ter (great­dix­ favours M. flori­bunda: “It’s the dreami­est of all; light and airy, with red-blushed pink and white blos­som that smoth­ers the tree.” Golden-yel­low crab ap­ples fol­low.

For a small gar­den, Jim Gardiner sug­gests colum­nar M. ‘Adiron­dack’, with waxy white flow­ers that open from pink buds. And, if you have space for it, head gar­dener Tom Cow­ard at Gravetye Manor (gravetye­ would rec­om­mend M. hu­pe­hen­sis, a strong grower with a cloak of white blos­som, which can reach ten me­tres. Top Ir­ish gar­dener Jimi Blake has trained seedlings of M. sieboldii into a multi-stem in his gar­den (hunt­ing­brook. com) and loves it for its grace­ful habit and mass of pale pink flow­ers opening to white.

Or­na­men­tal cher­ries are very easy to grow and pro­duce blos­som in lus­cious pro­fu­sion. Bob Mcqueen, hor­ti­cul­tural man­ager at Hil­lier Nurs­eries (hil­, picks two vase-shaped trees, Prunus ‘Snow­goose’ and P. ‘Sun­set Boule­vard’, ideal for a smaller space. On the first, the large flow­ers are al­most grey-white; on the sec­ond, dark pink in bud, paler in flower. Ic­ing-sugar pink P. sar­gen­tii has the bonus of lus­trous bark and bril­liant au­tumn colour. Jim Gardiner’s rec­om­men­da­tions in­clude the loud and proud bright pink P. ‘Beni-yukata’; along with dou­ble, shellpink P. ‘Ichiyo’ and P. in­cisa ‘The Bride’, which is more dwarf in habit, with white flow­ers edged by dis­tinc­tive red an­thers.

For some­thing dif­fer­ent (seen on page 127), Ed Ikin, head of land­scape and hor­ti­cul­ture at Wake­hurst Place ( wake­hurst) has two sug­ges­tions. First is Chi­nese Stewartia sinensis – “a strong per­former with a shapely habit, large fra­grant white flow­ers and a rep­til­ian­like trunk that shim­mers in the rain”. His sec­ond pick is the Carolina sil­ver­bell, Halesia carolina. “It’s slen­der, ele­gant and never over­pow­ers the space it is in,” he says. Ex­u­ber­ant plant hunter Tom Hart Dyke (lulling­stonecas­ en­thuses about Staphylea holocarpa var. rosea,

which he says “bursts out with fluffy, can­dyfloss pink flow­ers on spindly naked branches and fol­lows up with bronze young leaves.” While for late flow­ers, head gar­dener Neil Miller at Hever Cas­tle (hev­er­cas­ rec­om­mends un­der­used Ja­panese snow­bell, Styrax japon­i­cus,

with its clus­ters of creamy white bells.

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