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for Extra-Early Spring Flowers

Anne K Moore
Photographs by Anne K Moore

Prunus Mume, Japanese flowering apricot, has been called a perfect small tree.It blooms in mid-winter or very early spring before the leaves appear.The secret to its success are flowerbuds that have staggered dormancy, so they bloom on developing buds even if a late freeze kills already mature buds and blooms. ��

In reasonable seasons, this staggered dormancy leads to a very long bloom time, from four to eight weeks when almost nothing else is blooming.The site of a blooming tree in January is enough to set a gardener�s heart aflutter.

You can choose cultivars that bear pink flowers or white flowers.The flowers are often fragrant.Some cultivars suitable for the small garden or even for growing in a container only get to 8 feet tall. �Beni-chidori� (syn. �Benishidore�) and �Dawn� are two small bushy trees.�Beni-chidori� has dark pink flowers.Double ruffled pink flowers cover �Dawn� a little later in the spring.

Growing to 20 feet, so still fittable into a small garden, are �Peggy Clark� with double, rose-red flowers.Then there is the earliest flowering apricot, �Rosemary Clark,�.She shows out in large, double white flowers with red whorls of sepals underneath the flower.�W.B. Clark� and �Pendula� both weep in pink flowers.W.B.�s flowers are double.

Full sun in fertile, well-drained soil will keep these trees healthy and happy for many seasons to come.USDA Zones 6-9.

NOTE:These beautiful flowering apricots will bloom after the most unpredictable up and down winters, but they will not do well in California�s Central Valley or densely populated cities where smog is a problem.

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