No Cherry On Top

P90811Weeping flowering cherry is another type of tree that almost never gets appreciated like it should. Like so many Japanese maples, they get planted into situation where so-called ‘gardeners’ shear them into nondescript globs of worthless foliage that only get in the way. Some get shorn so regularly that they are deprived of bloom. Their form and bloom are their two main assets.

The climate here is not easy on them either. Although comfortably mild, the climate is also arid. This aridity enhances the potential for sun scald of exposed bark. Because upper limbs bend over to hang back downward, their bark is more exposed than that of upright flowering cherries. Consequently, upper limbs are often scalded and ruined, disfiguring the remaining canopy.

Pruning can be complicated. Removal of scalded upper growth exposes inner growth that is more sensitive to scald. It is sometimes necessary to leave damaged upper growth until it gets replaced from below by newer growth. Regular pruning to remove as much of the superfluous lower growth as possible should stimulate more vigorous growth among the stems that remain.

This is really the best technique for preventing scald among upper growth. It may sound silly, but pruning from below to concentrate growth into fewer stems that extend from or through the top of the canopy keeps the top of the canopy healthy and resilient to scald. It also elevates the pendulous canopy that needs to be pruned very regularly for vertical clearance anyway.

It is not easy to see in this picture, but this small weeping cherry tree is developing two distinct canopies. The original upper canopy was damaged by scald and is now disfigured. It is mostly to the upper left of center of the picture. A more symmetrical inner canopy that is developing where superfluous inner growth was pruned out last winter is evident below and to the right.

If there were not a walkway so close to the tree, and I were not concerned with maintaining vertical clearance, I could prune the upper canopy back over a few years, and subordinate it to the healthier lower canopy as it grows through it. Instead, I will prune out most of the inner canopy, leaving only a few vigorous stems that can replace what is missing in the upper canopy.

There is no need to be concerned with it now. The lower stems are not too obtrusive yet. They can bloom next spring, and get pruned out next summer before they really do get obtrusive.

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Six on Saturday: Spring Flowering Trees – With Problems

 

You probably do not notice the problems while distracted by the profuse bloom. That is just swell. It is gratifying that the trees that I work with are appealing to those who see them. Since I work with them, I notice their problems. I would have posted just close up pictures of the flowering cherries and flowering crabapples, but because they are blooming at different times this year, I got only these three.

1. The shade of the big redwood trees is a bit too dark for this flowering cherry tree. It is always this sparse. What is worse is that the upper layer of bloom is suspended on a single horizontal limb that extends from the right, out the backside, back in toward the center and off to the left as it is seen here in the picture. What looks like supporting limbs is actually trunks of birch trees in the background. I would prefer to cut the awkward limb off, but you can see how flat topped the remaining portion of the tree would be without it.P90413

2. This is the main reason the tree remains. These double white flowers are the whitest of the trees here.P90413+

3. My absence at a previous work day at the Presbyterian Church was the problem with this ‘Prairie Fire’ flowering crabapple. I had worked with this tree for a few years to thin out the thicket growth, and repair structural damage. Then, because I was not there, someone else pruned it indiscriminately with hedge shears and loppers! What a mess! It is best that you can not see the damage within the canopy. I don’t know why this was done. The tree only needed minor trimming for clearance above parked cars. After bloom, I will start the process of structural repair all over again.P90413++

4. These rosy pink flowers make it all worth it though.P90413+++

5. This flowering cherry actually looks better than I expected it to this year. I pruned out so much necrosis last years that I figured that the tree was deteriorating. I expected a bit more new necrosis to develop this years. As you can see, that did not happen so much. I am not disappointed. Actually, I am impressed that there is no necrosis worth noticing. The worst problem with the tree right now is that it is disfigured by the unexplained necrosis. Well, that will not prevent us from appreciating the bloom.P90413++++

6. This is the bloom close up. It is very similar to the other two old cherry trees that I will be cutting down this year. I wrote an article, and perhaps others, about them earlier. https://tonytomeo.com/2019/03/31/the-end-of-the-cherry-blossom-festival/P90413+++++

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

The End Of The Cherry Blossom Festival

P90331After decades of spectacular spring bloom, this pair of flowering cherry trees in the picture above must be removed. They have been deteriorating for a very long time. Below the limber blooming branches of the tree on the right, there is not much more than a bulky rotten trunk, one rotting limb, and a short stub of a limb that was cut back to a bit of viable twiggy growth last year. The tree to the left has only a few more viable but rotten limbs.
Through this last winter, it was finally decided that we would allow them to bloom one last time, and then replace them with a new pair of trees of the same cultivar. I will cut them down myself. I do not want anyone else to perform this unpleasant task. Nor do I want such dignified and admired trees to be cut down by anyone else. Like I do for other prominent trees, I will write the obituary; a joint obituary for two who were always together.
Since the new trees will be of the same cultivar, they will bloom with the same profuse pale pink spring bloom, and will hopefully last for more than half a century like the originals did. Because the originals had been pruned back so severely as they deteriorated over the past many years, the new trees should grow to be as large within only a few years. They will not be the same though. There will be no adequate replacement for the originals.
The cherry blossoms below are of another pair of trees a bit farther up the road. They are not nearly as old, so could be there for a few more decades. There are a few others, of various ages and different cultivars, scattered about the neighborhood.P90331+P90331++

Not So Fruitless Cherry Trees

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

Six on Saturday: Cherry on Top

 

The flowering cherry trees are like something from Washington D C. They are remarkably happy in our particular location. The air is a bit cooler and a bit more humid than in the Santa Clara Valley. The redwood forest protects them from wind. These pictures were taken last Monday. Bloom is finishing now. The trees in the first picture are already mostly green with new foliage. Bloom was excellent while it lasted.

Azaleas are still in full bloom in the same area. Some are farther along. Others still have buds opening. They seem to be a bit late this year.

The Dutch iris is interesting because it is so uncommon here. In other locations, it blooms well only once, and then does not get adequate chill to bloom the following year. These Dutch iris are doing quite well near the ‘Kwanzan’ flowering cherry in the third picture, and have been blooming reliable for several years.

The pansies, which are actually easy to grow here, did not do as well as other plants that should not have done as well as they did. A few bare spots are evident. However, because they are partly shaded and cooled by the redwoods, pansies can stay in this spot near the flowering cherries in the first and second pictures until the weather gets too warm for them in summer. In other places not so far away, they would have been replaced by warm season annuals already.

1. flowering cherry – Some know them as ‘Yoshino’. Others think they are ‘Akebono’. I really need to find out what they are so that we can add more before these deteriorating old trees get removed.P80414
2. flowering cherry – Double flowers are not my favorite, but the clear bright white is. Again, we do not know what cultivar this is.P80414+
3. flowering cherry – This one is obviously ‘Kwanzan’.P80414++
4. azalea – This red azalea should be easy to identify, but no one really cares what cultivar it is.P80414+++
5. Dutch iris – In our climate, this is impressively reliable bloom.P80414++++
6. pansies – Yes, I know they are cliché; but they happened to be blooming near the flowering cherries, so I could not just ignore them.P80414+++++
This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

Cherry Blossom Festival

P80324KI would say that this is our own private Cherry Blossom Festival, but it really gets a crowd. These two old trees are at the edge of the main roadway through town, so several people driving by stop to take pictures. They may not seem to be very impressive compared to healthier flowering cherry trees, but they are what we have, and we are happy to get the bloom.

Decades ago, fruiting cherries were some of the more common orchard trees in the Santa Clara Valley. Flowering cherries were only somewhat popular in home gardens, and might have been less popular without the Japanese influence. They are more popular in cooler climates, not only because they are happier in cooler climates, but also because those who live where winters are harsh have a better appreciation for bloom that so happily celebrates the end of winter.

These particular trees are unfortunately deteriorating. They are quite old, and the trunks and main limbs rot and die back a bit more each year. No one wants to cut them down because they are such a familiar landmark this time of year. Few people can remember when the trees were not there.

We are grateful for the bloom this year because the weather could have easily ruined it. It was so warm earlier in winter that bloom could have very easily been accelerated, and happened just as frosty or rainy weather resumed. The trees seemed to know what time of year it was, and waited for the right time. It did happen to rain just prior to when these pictures were taken, but the blossoms had just opened, so were resilient to the rain. Weather should be milder for the next few days, until these trees are finished with their bloom.P80324K+