Prunus campanulata

campanulata (Small)
Most people call these flowering cherries and locals tend to take them for granted, unlike those people who live in colder parts of the world where they can not be grown. The ones flowering now are the Taiwanese or Formosan cherry (although only readers over about sixty will recall when the island of Taiwan was still Formosa). They range in colour from mid pink through bright sugar pinks to cerise or carmine and almost red. The reddest form on the market just happens to be called Prunus Felix Jury. We have a series which come into flower over a period of weeks and at times it can seem as if the trees are erupting with feeding tui. While it is hard to take a census (the birds won’t stay still long enough), it is common to find about 20 in one tree at any hour of the day. We think we must currently have at least 50 resident tui.

The downside to campanulatas is that some forms can seed down badly. If you are within a few kilometres of the national park or a nature reserve, make sure you search out forms advertised as sterile (in other words they don’t set seed). These late winter flowering cherries combine well with the early magnolias and because they are not a heavy looking tree, you can often tuck them in nearby so their mass of small flowers contrasts with the over the top magnolia blooms of campbellii or Vulcan. Campanulatas appear to be more disease resistant and healthier in our climate and are not susceptible to witches broom.