Gardening / Happiness is a weeping cherry

It is hard to surpass the beauty of a weeping cherry.

It is hard to surpass the beauty of a weeping cherry.

IT’S hard to surpass the beauty of a weeping cherry.

But despite flowering blossom trees of every variety growing well in Canberra, there are no blossom trees in Commonwealth Park.

This is made harder to understand when the park was originally laid out by one of Britain’s most distinguished landscape architects, Dame Sylvia Crowe, in 1964.

The park plantings are predominantly exotic with substantial banks of rhododendrons for which spring blossom trees would be complementary.

I believe it’s time this was rectified and maybe the National Capital Authority could look at this in their next tree plantings.

THIS is the ideal time for planting flowering blossom trees, especially the weepers, which belong to the large Prunus family.

The pendulous branches weep to the ground and become covered with a magnificent display of flowers that can be either white or pink and either double or single blooms.

Two of the most popular are Prunus subhirtella “Rosea” with lavender-pink buds opening to single, soft pink flowers (pictured here at Tulip Top Gardens) and Prunus subhirtella“White” that flowers in early spring looking like it is covered with snow.

Prunus “Cheals” has bronze-green emerging leaves with a profusion of deep-pink double blossoms.

One flowering cherry, Prunus “Mt. Fuji”, is often confused as a weeping cherry, but has upright spreading branches grafted on to an upright standard.

Not realising this, some home gardeners try to weigh the branches with, among other things, heavy lead fishing weights. Of course, none of this works, it is simply the nature of the tree.

The weeping part of the tree is grafted on various upright standards, varying from ground level to the graft from 1.5 metres to a tall 3 metres. I prefer the taller graft to set the tree off to perfection, but remember, they can have a large spread.

I know of one in Hughes that has a 10-metre spread and it worries me to see them planted a couple of metres either side of a front door!

They can be kept somewhat smaller by judicious pruning after flowering although it is important not to prune before the third week in October when the sap has finished rising or they will “bleed” profusely and the cuts take longer to heal.

WINTER is flowering time for Cyclamen, which in the botanical pronunciation guide is sounded “sik”, not as in bicycle.

It is Cyclamen time for the garden and home.

It is Cyclamen time for the garden and home.

They don’t like to be overwatered and can be kept on the dry side. Do not sit the container in a saucer with water, rather fill the saucer with small pebbles and sit the container on top of the pebbles. Keep them away from drafts or heater vents.

When they finish flowering they can be planted in the garden and will continue to increase over the years.

Pictured here is a Cyclamen hanging in our gazebo. Note the basket liner is foam carpet underlay, perfect for lining baskets because birds don’t raid this material for building nests as they do with, say, coconut liners.

With the multi-coloured side facing outwards, this will weather and even grow moss to make it very natural. With plastic on the inside, it retains the water better, but you should punch a few holes in the plastic for drainage. This liner and plants have now been in place for more than seven years and, with regular feeds of organic plant food, look how well they grow.

Jottings…

  • Plant bearded iris with the rhizome facing north-south. It’s not too late to divide for flowering in mid-spring.
  • Start planting a few Gladioli corms each week for a succession of flowers. Do not water after planting until the flower buds appear unless it is very dry.
  • “Gardening is the only unquestionably useful occupation,” wrote George Bernard Shaw

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