Cherry Pickin’
by Director of Gardens Perry Mathewes

This time of year so many little bulbs and flowers are popping out of the ground that everyone gets excited about spring arriving. However, this week, the trees remind us that they too are part of this festival. Drive around town right now and you can’t miss seeing all the cherries in bloom. The apple blossom may be the big thing for Winchester, but the pre-show is pretty nice too.

Okame cherry

We have added three new and different cherry trees to the gardens this year. Well, actually two were planted last fall, but we are getting the results now. First to bloom is the Okame cherry, which started this weekend. Echo Ridge nursery donated this tree last fall and we planted it along the front drive to the house. Passers-by coming up Amherst Street will catch a flash of pink as they peek through the formal front gates. It is already a large tree (we needed a tree spade to plant it), standing over 20 feet tall and it may grow another ten feet in coming years. Covered in delicate pink flowers, the color really pops with the dark green hemlocks in the background.

Okame cherry

Installation of the Okame cherry last fall

We also planted a Yoshino cherry in the Spring Garden last fall. This is the cherry of the National Cherry Blossom Festival in DC. Before too long, this tree will be covered in clusters of light pink to white flowers. Julian Glass and Lee Taylor originally planted this kind of cherry tree in the Grand Allée. Because of losses from year to year, they had trouble keeping a uniform look in such a formal design so they replaced them with crabapples in 1976. This cherry should do well in the more informal scheme of the Spring Garden.

Yoshino cherry  (Note: this is what the blooms look like on a Yoshino cherry tree. The MSV’s new Yoshino cherry is just on the verge of blooming!) 4/14 UPDATE: The Yoshino cherry is now blooming!

This week we planted the third and final new cherry tree, a weeping Higan cherry. Already over 12 feet tall, this tree will eventually grow to 40 feet high and may spread out as much as 30 feet. It has long graceful weeping branches that will be covered in single pink flowers later this month. We planted it at the east end of the new pond of the Spring Garden, to be a colorful echo of the weeping willows at the other end of the pond. 

Planting the weeping Higan cherry

So which cherry is the best? I can’t decide. You need to come pick. Now I have given you the perfect reason to come visit the gardens a couple of times this month. See you soon. 


Previous Posts:

3/26/15 Getting Ready for the Party

3/13/15 Looking for the Spring Garden

2/26/15   Winter Interest

2/12/15   Roses in February

1/29/15   What Gardeners Do in January

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Photos by Director of Gardens Perry Mathewes.