Saturday, May 25, 2013

Flowering Almond (Prunus glandulosa)

If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded. – Maya Angelou 

I thought today I would show you a shrub we just recently cut out of some overgrowth of wild rose and choke cherry trees. Plants, like people, need love and tending to reach full potential. This one was desperate for some TLC.

It’s an understatement that we had let things go down here in the country. Before the move I was only ever down here every other weekend and most of that time was spent mowing the lawns. So there was little time to keep border shrubs cleared out.

That has changed. We were lucky that this little shrub is so darn tough. It fought off encroachment for literally decades. Of course (by the title of this post) I’m writing about Flowering Almond.

This bush belonged to my Great Aunts Hilda and Nettie and I can remember it being quite spectacular when I was young. So it’s been here for quite a long time, possibly 40 years or so.

Flowering Almond is a small deciduous, multi-stemmed  shrub that bears spectacular, if small at about 3/4" wide, rosy pink flowers during May in our garden. There are a few varieties, including ones that set fruit, but the double flowered cultivars do not.

That’s what we have. Double flowering almond grow in USDA Zones 4 through 8 or 9, so that’s a fair range. They usually grow to only 4-5 feet high with a spread of 3-4 feet.

The flowers are borne tight to the stock just as the leaves are starting to emerge. Coincidentally, they flower just as the forsythia if finishing its blooming cycle. That’s good to keep in mind.

Unfortunately the blossoms have little to no scent, so unlike Mock Orange there’s not real benefit to planting it close enough to the house so you can bend down and enjoy the scent. But it is enough to be able to enjoy the flowers. They are quite beautiful.

The scientific name is Prunus glandulosa. Prunus is the family of plants that include plums, cherries, peaches, apricots, nectarines and almonds. In other words, the “stone fruits.”

Flowering almond likes the sun and fairly moist soil, but does not like to have its roots constantly wet. I have read that it is a short-lived bush, starting to decline in about 10 years, but we have a plant that makes me seriously doubt that fact.

It is tolerant of urban growing conditions and some drought. But like all plants don’t push it. Since it is multi-stemmed after a while it can begin to look a little “unkempt” after a while, so perhaps it is better at the edge of property.

This shrub benefits to being cut back slightly after flowering. This will encourage new growth, which we need.

Our bush has responded quite well to being cleared out and I look forward to trying to nurse it back to the shrub I remember from my youth.

Fingers crossed. In the meantime, we will enjoy the blossoms it has graced us with this year.

Since they’re a little uncommon, i you can find one at a garden centre I would strongly suggest you buy it. You won’t be disappointed.


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