P80520The ‘politically correct’ designation for them now is ‘flowering cherry’. We all know what it means, but it is not quite as accurate. After all, they all flower. Fruiting cherries can not make fruit without flowering first. The old fashioned designation as ‘fruitless cherry’ is more accurate, but not so appealing. Besides, after half a century, the work of these two deteriorating old fruitless cherry trees has not been in vain.

We are not certain what cultivar they are. I think of them as ‘Akebono’ because that is what I am familiar with. However, those who have been acquainted with them longer know them as ‘Yoshino’. The tree structure seems to be more similar to that of ‘Akebono’. The bloom seems to be more similar to that of ‘Yoshino’. My Mother happens to like ‘Akebono’, so if she ever asks, I know what to say. However, I would tell my Pa that they are ‘Yoshino’ because that happens to be the middle name of his newest son in law, who he gave my baby sister #5 away to. It does not really matter what their name is. They are some of the most important trees in the neighborhood.

You would think that with all the very old and very big redwoods here, that these puny and decrepit flowering cherry trees would not be all that important. Some of the redwoods are hundreds of feet tall and hundreds of years old. They will still be here for a very long time after the flowering cherries are gone. Flowering cherries can last for centuries where they are happiest and pampered in old gardens in Japan, but rarely last half a century here, even in the best of conditions.

However, everyone in the neighborhood knows these cherry trees. There are only a few people who can remember before the trees were planted in the late 1960s. They are spectacular in bloom, particularly with the dark green backdrop of the rest of the landscape and redwoods. The picture below shows a close up of the bloom about a month and a half ago. One can imagine the entire canopy of the trees covered with this bloom before new foliage appears. It was even more spectacular years ago, before the canopies started to deteriorate and die back. There is not much left of them now.

They really are as bad as they look in the picture above. The closer of the two trees is just a stump with that silly little stub on top to make it look even more disfigured. I could not cut off the stump because some of the minimal remaining viable stems originate there. It does not matter much. There is no way to repair these trees, or make them any prettier. Either of the trees could die at any moment. We are ready to plant at least one replacement, although we will likely only plant one. The objective is to restore the bloom that was there before, but we know that there is no replacement for the trees that those who are familiar with are so fond of.

I have worked with MANY trees through my career, including a few that are (or were) very cultural significant. I was very disgusted by the lack of respect for a group of historic redwoods that used to be outside the old City Hall in Sunnyvale before the mall was build around them, over the area that used to be downtown. I inspected the big old coast live oak at the Scott Residence in Scott’s Valley, where the founder of the town resided. Again, I was saddened by the lack of concern from people who live there now but know nothing of local history, and care even less. At the Winchester House, I witnessed idiotic mislabeling of the historic California fan palms flanking the driveway, as well as blatant lies about their history. Well, I could write another article about this rant. These not so fruitless flowering cherries do not fit into this category anyway.

It seems that everyone is aware that the flowering cherries will be gone soon, and they understand why. No one questions the need for removal. It is saddening anyway. Yet, it is also gratifying to know that these trees are appreciated and respected as much as they are. Those who know them appreciate all the work they put into making their lives a bit more colorful and happier. For half a century, these flowering cherries have been doing what they were planted to do. They had a very good and fruitful career.P80414

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9 thoughts on “Not So Fruitless Cherry Trees

    1. Yes. On the perimeter of nearby property, a bunch of ‘environmentalists’ are protesting the removal of several Acacia dealbata that have grown in the easement for the utility cables. They do not care that the trees damage the utility cables, are a fire hazard, are detrimental to the local ecology, block the road when they fall (which they often do), and are a lot of work for those who own the property and try to maintain them so they do less of the above. Some of these ‘environmentalists’ should redirect their concerns and protect trees that are actually assets to the Community. It is so contrary to what goes on inside the property.

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    1. They have been protected as much as they can. I would have cut them down a long time ago, but after speaking to so many neighbors about them, I will not cut them down until they are deceased. I will probably write an obituary for them too, like I did for the big valley oak down the road. You should not be sad about it. They were excellent trees for half a century.

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  1. There does come a time when trees simply can’t go on. Even if they escape disease or damage, the fact of everything living having a natural life span is real. So, it’s good that their life has pleased so many, and good that there will be replacements.

    As for the other issue you touched on, you’ve reminded me that it might be time for a followup post about a historically significant tree that was moved out of the way of highway construction in my town. I wrote about it here, but even the video included within the post will be enough to give you a taste of what an extraordinary experience it was. I still tear up when I watch it. Not everyone approved the necesary expenditures, but I think everyone is glad now that it happened.

    Thanks to the efforts of Erik Hess and his California company, Hess Trees, as well as people in our community, the unbelievable happened. Sometimes, things work out.

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    1. It is so gratifying when things work out. For our cherries, their demise is quite natural. There is nothing I would do to try to save them, although I do intend to let some of there suckers remain in the nearby creek. We might even graft a few scions from the trees back onto them. I know that modern cultivars are genetically identical to those from half a century ago, but it would be for the principal of it. Sadly, many of the trees I work with are not salvageable. There were a few old giant redwoods around the Santa Clara Valley that were planted quite a long time ago, including a few that were planted by President Roosevelt. They were in such bad condition that they were not worth salvage. In fact, even if they had not been in the way of expanding roadways, I would have recommended their removal anyway. They never were happy here. The coast redwoods in Sunnyvale that I mentioned are happier and healthier, and worthy of salvage, but should get the respect they deserve. The original plaques that were made for the trees were all mixed up in the reconstruction process, so that some of the oldest trees were labeled as they youngest, and one tree that as added when the mall was built was described as the original and most important of the bunch. (I want that worthless tree to be removed.) Some of the redwoods were labeled as the deodar cedars that died a long time ago. There is no respect at all.

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    1. Someone posted an impressive article about very old specimens in Japan. They might be able to last as long here if taken care of properly and pampered. I do not know, but I think that they are not as happy here as they are in Japan or the Northwest or north of Washington D. C.. Many of those that I work with have been severely damaged by sun scald. Because they are commonly grown as street trees, their trunks are very exposed. Even if the compartmentalize the damage, they never recover completely. Although the heat is not a problem (It does not get very hot here.), the lack of humidity often roasts foliage by late summer. The trees just are not as comfortable as they are in cooler climates. 50 years is more of a typical limit. Some barely survive 30 years. Some last a bit longer, I would guess that there will eventually be specimens that last centuries, probably in San Francisco or farther north. They have not been here long enough to get that old yet.

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