Washington DC is gearing up for this year’s Cherry Blossom festival from March 20 to April 14. It is not only an annual celebration of the capital’s famous cherry trees, but also a key indicator that spring might finally be here. The peak bloom period is expected to be March 26-30.
As gorgeous as the cherry blossoms are, there is an equally gorgeous ornamental tree that is in bloom earlier, from January through March, and that can be seen in the relative calm of Maryland’s Brookside Gardens. It is the Japanese Flowering Apricot (Prunus mume), which puts on a quite a show at a fairly monochromatic time of year in the Northern Hemisphere–a time of year when we are all becoming a bit desperate for some color.
Despite its striking beauty, this tree is not as well known in the United States as other ornamental trees, though more nurseries are now stocking it. Aside from the wonderful attribute of being in bloom when almost nothing else is, the tree is also ideal for smaller gardens, since it only gets to about 20-25 feet. I am now sorely tempted to re-evaluate my garden plan.