Take part in #blossomwatch

We share our top 10 trees for blossom – and explain how you can take part in #blossomwatch

Beautiful blossom of weeping cherry 'Rosea'

by Liz Potter |

For a sensational spring sight, nothing matches trees smothered in blowsy blossom. Some springflowering trees become large specimens, but a few suit even the smallest garden or quite happily grow in containers. The blossom may be fleeting, but many produce attractive fruit and fabulous autumn leaf colour too, giving a second season of interest, which is especially important in a small space. Flower buds and blossom can be damaged when frost thaws too fast, a particular problem in east-facing locations where the rising sun melts the ice crystals, breaking plant cell walls in the process. To minimise this, plant these show stoppers in a south or west-facing spot, ideally out of strong winds.

1. AMELANCHIER GRANDIFLORA ‘BALLERINA’ This elegant small tree has all the delicacy and poise of a dancer, with slen-der leaves and masses of white, star-shaped flowers in April opening on bare branches. Bronze-coloured leaves fade to green in summer then turn reddish-purple in autumn. Small red-black berries ripen in summer and are devoured by blackbirds. This hardy tree tolerates pollution and thrives in full sun or part shade

2. MAGNOLIA STELLATA More a medium-sized shrub than a tree, this star magnolia forms a compact, rounded shape. It’s one of the best magnolias to grow in a small space. In March or April, depending on the weather, white spidery petals unfurl from silky, silvery buds, creating a spectacular sight. The flowers are lightly scented and tend to stand up to frost better than more gobletshaped magnolia blooms. It’s happiest in acidic to neutral soil that’s moist but well-drained. H and S2.5m (8ft)

3. PRUNUS PENDULA ‘ROSEA’ The arching, pendulous branches of this weeping cherry give it a lovely diaphanous quality in spring, when it’s covered with a froth of pale pink, single flowers. The open blooms make it a good plant for bees, which can’t access the nectar of more frilly, double blossom. For a final flourish, in autumn the green leaves turn fiery shades of yellow and orange, creating a cascade of colour. H and S4m (13ft)

4. MALUS MOERLANDSII ‘PROFUSION IMPROVED’ This is one of the best trees you can grow for year-round interest and encouraging wildlife. In April and May branches are studded with deep pink-red flowers that attract pollinators. As it opens, the purple foliage adds to the display then turns bronze-green in summer, while deep red-purple crab apples dangle in clusters from its branches in autumn. With better resistance to scab than original ‘Profusion’, it’s happy on most well-drained soils. H and S8m (26ft)

5. MALUS ‘EVERESTE’ Crab apples are great allrounders with such pretty blossom. This cultivar has rose-pink buds that open to reveal delicate white petals. When in full bloom the whole tree gives off a delicate aroma, like freshly-aired laundry! Miniature apples appear in small bunches and gradually take on red and orange tones, while the leaves turn golden yellow as temperatures drop. The apples remain on the tree over winter, providing an important source of food for birds. H and S4-8m (13-26ft)

6. MAGNOLIA LOEBNERI ‘LEONARD MESSEL’ This magnolia matures into a large shrub or small tree, which means it’s suit-able for most sizes of garden. In April it’s covered in goblet-shaped flowers that become more star-like as they open from furry, grey buds on bare branches. The blossom – rose pink on the outside and paler pink on the inside – has a wonderful perfume. As spring turns to summer and the flowers fade, thick, leathery mid-green leaves emerge. Plant in a moist but well-drained soil that’s neutral to acidic, in full sun or part shade. H and S4-8m (13-26ft)

7**. PRUNUS INCISA**** ‘KOJO-NO-MAI’** This very floriferous dwarf ornamental cherry is more of a shrub than a tree, with wiry twisted branches that create a neat, rounded shape. It flowers early, generally in March, when dangling clusters of crim-son-coloured buds unfold, revealing a mix of white and pale pink single flowers. The tree then puts on a second display of colour when the green leaves adopt flame-red hues in autumn. It thrives in full sun or part-shade and needs a moist soil that’s well-drained. Use John Innes No3 compost for container plants. H and S2m (6 1/2ft)

8. CERCIS SILIQUASTRUM__ Although native to the eastern Mediterranean, the Judas tree can cope with winter tempera-tures down to -15C (5F). When mature it forms a broad, spreading canopy of heart-shaped, bright green leaves, which turn buttery yellow in autumn. In spring, rose-pink, pea flower-like blooms cover the bare branches, followed by red-dish-purple, flat seedpods held in bunches from the branches. Plant in full sun, in welldrained soil. H and S8-12m (26-40ft)

9. PRUNUS MUME ‘BENI-CHIDORI’ This Japanese apricot is highly-prized in east Asia for its early blossom. In late winter and early spring, striking cerise blooms, with a delicious almond fragrance, cover the bare branches. With a naturally shrubby habit, it’s compact enough to grow in a large pot. Plant in a sheltered southfacing spot to avoid frost damaging the blossom. Prune only in summer to avoid silver leaf and bacterial canker entering the wounds. H and S2.5m (8ft)

10. CRATAEGUS LAEVIGATA ‘PAUL’S SCARLET’ In May, this ornamental hawthorn is smothered with striking dark pink mul-ti-petalled flowers. These are followed by deeply-lobed green leaves that turn yellow in autumn. Birds feed on the deep red haws in winter and the thorn-covered stems provide an ideal nesting spot. Tough and hardy, hawthorns can cope with exposed sites, salt-laden winds, damp soils and pollution. H and S4-8m (13-26ft)

TAKE PART IN BLOSSOMWATCH After the success of #BlossomWatch in 2020, when thousands captured and shared images of trees in bloom across social media, the National Trust is inviting people to celebrate blossom season once again. Emulating Hanami, the ancient Japanese tradition of viewing and celebrating blossom as the first sign of spring, the conservation charity is encouraging everyone to take a moment to pause, actively notice and enjoy the fleeting beauty of blossom. Using #BlossomWatch the National Trust is asking people to share their blossom images on social media, with the hope that the joyful sight of blush-tinted blooms will lift spirits and enable everyone to celebrate nature together.

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