Thursday, March 27, 2014

Prunus mume 'Sabashi-Ko'...a nice dark one

We have dozens of flowering apricots at the National Arboretum, mostly light to medium pinks and whites. This is the darkest flower I know of. The plant sits just a few feet off the road across from the entrance to China Valley. Like other P. mume, it is pleasantly fragrant. This one has a touch of cinnamon.

I've been following a debate, maybe a discussion, in the Four Seasons Garden Club about the merits of P. mume as a garden plant.One side contends that the plant, while pleasant in bloom, contributes nothing the rest of the year and has an ungainly growth habit to boot. The other side, and I find myself on the other side of this issue, feels that The fragrance is so wonderful and the timing, mid-winter to early-spring, of the flowers is enough to forgive it any shortcomings. I'm thinking that, as in most such disputes, there is no answer; we all get to decide for ourselves. The discussion reinforces for me the concept that gardens are personal, they are  relationships between a gardener and a space.

I must admit that an unpruned flowering apricot is inevitably an awkward, twiggy disaster. Constant attentive pruning makes them much less objectionable, even attractive. Unlike the ubiquitous flowering cherrys, P. mume typically is a long lived small tree; older specimens are quite attractive.

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