Blossom Time

My neighbour's magnolia tree, which she also shares with our garden
My neighbour's magnolia tree leans happily over our fence - it's a Magnolia x soulangeana of unknown variety

The past week has seen a transformation here in Chippenham. Green fuzziness is busting out all over, and gorgeous blossom is everywhere. It means from now until May, the trees take centre stage and proclaim spring is truly here.

I'm really lucky living where I am. As well as my neighbour's generosity with her magnolia, whoever chose the trees for our estate did a really good job. Most front gardens have a small tree with around a third of these currently sporting glorious blossom. They're mainly ornamental cherries of various white and pink hues.

Blackthorn blossom leaning over into my back garden

The planners also kept many of the old hedgerows threading through the estate, so whilst I probably wouldn't choose blackthorn as a garden tree, I'm more that happy to find it leaning over our other back garden fence. The blossom has a notorious warning - beware the blackthorn winter - but it is a pretty sight, and I also enjoy picking the fat sloes in the autumn.

Here's some more of our estate's blossom, ornamental cherry this time. Last year, on my Maytime walks I also discovered we have lots of native bird cherry in the more parkland like areas.



If the embedded video doesn't work, try this link instead.

If your garden lacks blossom, there's just enough time left to find yourself a tree. With careful selection you'll have some flowers for now, and then plenty next year onwards.

The best time for planting is usually between November and March when trees are dormant, though container grown ones can usually be planted at any time. Planting now will possibly save you lots of extra watering during the summer to ensure your tree gets well established, though of course it depends on how much rain we actually get.



Some of my favourite blossom time trees


Red Windsor apple blossom
Bright 'Red Windsor' blossom
Apple - great for any garden no matter the size as the various root stocks available mean it can be small enough for a large pot through the full range of sizes to a large-ish stately tree. Blossom and fruit makes for a lot of seasonal interest.

Any fruit tree makes sense for a garden in my view. I also have a soft spot for pear and quince, though the latter has yet to set fruit. My neighbours out front have  a couple of plums and round the corner there's almonds. None of our gardens are particularly large, yet we've still managed to find the right medium sized tree to suit our tastes.

Magnolia stellata
My Magnolia stellata
Magnolia - a frost at the wrong time can lead to heartbreak, but when everything comes together, there's no finer sight in spring than a magnolia in full bloom.

We have to be more careful round here to select lime tolerant varieties like my neighbour's Magnolia x soulangeanaMagnolia stellata works well too and is great for a small garden or pot. I also like the look of Magnolia x loebneri 'Leonard Messel'.


The Midland Hawthorn, Crataegus laevigata 'Paul'sScarlet'
Hawthorn blossom needn't be white
Hawthorn - another hedgerow remnant that leans over my fence and drips with blooms during May. They also make an attractive small to medium tree for a garden with a wonderful gnarled appearance.

I've found it's this tree that's stripped of its berries first by the birds and it's host to a wide variety of insects. Definitely one to consider for a wildlife garden.


Prunus 'Kursar'
Ornamental cherry - an estate favourite here in Chippenham and a feature often seen in our parks and on our streets. There are plenty of beautiful small to medium sized trees to choose from in the catalogues, plus some varieties suitable for pots. It's a good choice for any garden.

A more unusual choice is Prunus x subhirtella 'Autumnalis' which blooms from November until March. If you've ever thought you've seen a cherry blossoming out of season, it's probably this one.

Cercis siliquastrum and topiary
Others - I tried to guerrilla garden an Amelanchier, but then found it doesn't like limey soil. This small tree has it all: beautiful blossom, an elegant habit, good leaf colour, and deep red/black fruit which are liked by wildlife. A good doer on clay soil.

I'm also an admirer of the Judas trees (Cercis siliquastrum) at West Green House.

What's your favourite tree for blossom? Update: The results are in... which merited a post all to themselves via Blossom Time Revisited.



Where to find inspiration


Brogdale in Kent is the place for fruit blossom as it has the National Fruit Collection with thousands of different varieties on show. Any garden open to the public near you which boasts a good fruit tree collection or orchard are good bets and may also home in on varieties which grow particularly well in your part of the country.

I particularly love the crab apple trees at Yeo Valley Organic Garden and the old orchard and potager apples at West Green House.

Caerhays Castle in Cornwall hosts the national collection of magnolias. They're quite a sight when you approach the castle via the beach side car park. Keele University has the national collection of flowering cherries. Drive along any country road in May and you'll be bowled over by the hawthorn blossom in the hedgerows.



Further reading




I love Naomi's book Orchard Odyssey, which has lots of inspiration for growing your own orchard in the smallest of spaces (did you know 5 fruit trees constitutes an orchard?). Here's Sally Nex's review.





This post is sponsored by Target Trees.

Note that sponsorship goes towards my blogging costs; the words and pictures are my own. There are no affiliate links or cookies associated with this post.

Comments

  1. Glorious blossom, magnolias are one of my favourite trees. I love them even after the blossom has passed, they have such lovely shapes. I have the tiniest one imaginable, I am nurturing it patiently! Apple blossom is a favourite of mine too, I love it. I'm a fan of camellias as well although I have to go and pick the blooms off after they go brown!

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    1. Sadly I don't have the right soil for Camellias and having seen them tree size in Cornwall, I can no longer contemplate growing them in a pot. They are lovely though

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  2. It's really hard to choose. Prunus, Amelanchier & Magnolia my favourites, but really, it's whatever blossom I'm looking at, at that moment... (not much of an answer!)

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    1. Quite a few say whatever is in blossom at the time, so you're in good company!

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  3. Lovely blooms!
    We have pear trees for springtime blooms
    Hope you are having a great week!

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    1. I have pears on the allotment, lovely early blossom 😊

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  4. We have the green fuzziness too.

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    1. I think it's my favourite stage of spring, those few days when you're asking yourself is that branch green, and then it clearly is 😊

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  5. Lovely. I like all tree blossom, especially white cherry blossom. Flighty xx

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  6. The magnolia tree blossoms are beautiful! I like any flowering tree in the spring time, but I'm partial to ornamental crabapples, just because we have several lining our driveway, so they really make a statement. I also have a small Amelanchier, which luckily does well here.

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    1. I found some ornamental crab apples in some public planting last week. It is indeed beautiful and the perfect excuse for another post about blossom!

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  7. That's beauty VP - what a considerate neighbour. I'm not sure whether I have a favourite but the first tree I planted for blossom was an autumn flowering cherry. It usually has a burst of blossom from November until the first hard frosts and then sings again come spring. It certainly earns its keep.

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    1. Ah that must be the 'Autumnalis' cherry I referred to. They are a welcome sight in the depths of winter, even though my brain also tells me its the wrong time of year for cherry blossom. My brain needs retraining now I know they're made that way!

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  8. I'm definitely after an Amelanchier. I've been meaning to get one for years and I think the time is right. It should love my clay soil!

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    1. I think one would look lovely in your garden Jessica :)

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  9. It is an exciting time of year! I've been remiss in not updating my blog for a while but Matron is back now! xxx

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    1. Hurrah, Matron is back! :)

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    2. PS lovely to see you on here, even though I know 'Matron doesn't do flowers' ;)

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