Flowering this week – Prunus Pearly Shadows

The flowers on Pearly Shadows are at least two weeks early this season

The flowers on Pearly Shadows are at least two weeks early this season

The disconcerting aspect about the pale pink froth of Prunus Pearly Shadows this week is that it normally happens around Labour Weekend which is still two weeks away. The flowering is early all round the garden this spring. So the drifting pink petals like snow flakes on a breeze may all be over by the time our garden festival starts at the end of the month. At least the new growth is an attractive and distinctive bronze though hardly as pretty as the flowers.

Pearly Shadows is a Japanese cherry with very full, fluffy double flowers. While Felix Jury named it, he did not breed it. The tree is too good just to be a chance seedling so it is a fair bet that it may have a proper Japanese name in Japan but nobody has ever been able to tell us what it is.

Pearly Shadows has a very useful shape as a tree, being like a capital Y which gets the upper branches out of the way. Some other Japanese cherries tend to grow more in the shape of capital T with low, spreading branches. A Y shape makes a better tree to line a driveway than a T shape.

Japanese cherries are pretty as a picture and make a quick growing impact tree but they are rarely long-lived in local Taranaki conditions. We are too damp and they can develop root problems and up and die unexpectedly. They also have a tendency to develop witches broom which can be seen as very dense foliar growth with no flowers. The witches broom will take over the tree if you don’t stay on top of it and cut it out in summer. By that stage, the entire tree is in full leaf and unless you have marked the offending sections, you will probably have forgotten which bits to take out.

A useful Y shape for a driveway tree

A useful Y shape for a driveway tree