The ‘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.