Saturday, February 5, 2011

A redbud, is a redbud, is a Taiwan Cherry

Prunus campanulata The Taiwan Cherry
Winter has it's depths even along the northern Gulf Coast.  Many years it may only consist of a two week period in late January, yet we are nevertheless quite proud and boastful of our frigid temps, which we perceive as allowing us empathy for our friends up nawth.   It is during this coldest spell that the Taiwan Cherry buds begin to swell, bursting into bloom as a reminder of how brief our winters truly are.   Each year we have our very own winter cherry blossom festival seemingly reserved for those of us fortunate to live south of Atlanta and Birmingham.  

The dilemma garden centers face arises when a host of hibernating gardeners awaken and pour in asking for "redbuds."  After all ,the Taiwan Cherry sports magenta-red buds whereas our native redbud might more properly be called a "purplebud".  Surprisingly this does not lead to much confusion as we are all absolutely certain that our Asian friend, the Taiwan cherry, is indeed a native "redbud."  Our native redbud has unfortunately obliged in recent decades by declining in numbers rivaling the dissapearing dogwoods.

The Accuweather (now there's a gutsy name) forecast calls for a low next week of 20 degrees which will threaten this year's "cherry festival" for the first time in recent memory.  But the open flowers have a peculiar resistance to cold, often undamaged by temps in the mid twenties. That is one of the joys of the winter gardener-the daring optimism we share with the Taiwan cherry.

Use the cherry as you might a dogwood or other small tree. It is a fine specimen, but where room permits, a multi-trunked grove (as pictured) is especially beautiful.