This genus includes the almond, apricot, cherry, peach and plum which are deciduous trees or shrubs, also the laurel which is, of course, evergreen. They fare best in a well-worked, reasonably fertile soil, not deficient in lime. A sunnyis desirable. Most species are hardy, although the apricots and peaches (both flowering and fruiting types) come into bloom early in the year and may be injured by frost. Planting should be undertaken in November but may be continued in open weather up to late March. Little, if any, is needed. Propagation is by budding or grafting named varieties on to various kinds of prunus, sometimes, in the case of certain species, by sown as soon as ripe.
The choice for the gardener is immense. Some prunus are too large for the small garden and indications of ultimate height are given wherever possible. It must be appreciated that both height and spread are largely determined by soil and climatic conditions and in some cases it is difficult to estimate the eventual height in this country, as the particular species or variety has not been sufficiently long in cultivation.
Choice of Varieties:
P. Amanogawa: ideal for small gardens as it is an upright grower, never spreading, the general habit resembling a Lombardy poplar. Blush-pink, fragrantappear in May. Ultimate height doubtful, possibly 20 ft.
P. amygdalus (communis): the common almond which does especially well in town gardens. The pinkappear in March. There are both single and double forms. Grows to about 15 ft.
P. amygdalo-persica pollardii: bears larger, richer pink, single flowers P. avium (Gean, Mazzard or Wild Cherry): native to Britain. Pure white flowers in May, the foliage colouring well in autumn. Too vigorous for v-I small gardens as it eventually reaches 50 ft. with a spread of 30 ft. The double form is equally lovely.
P. Blireiana: bright, rosy-pink, double flowers in late February and early March, followed by purple foliage. It ultimately grows to about 20 ft.
P. cerasifera atropurpurea: often catalogued as Prunus Pissardii, this is the purple-leaved plum which does so well in town gardens. The rather uninteresting whitish flowers appear in March, followed by purplish foliage and purple fruits.
P. cerasifera nigra has even darker foliage. Height of both about 20 ft.
P. hillieri Spire: a relatively new variety with soft almond-pink flowers in spring. Will probably ultimately reach 30 ft. with less spreading growth than most prunus. Thecolour well in autumn.
P. Fudanzakura: blooms in February, the pink buds opening to single white flowers. May be cut in the bud stage for indoor decoration. Grows to about 15 ft.
P. Kanzan: often catalogued as Hisakura, this is probably the best known of the Japanese cherries, though not the most beautiful. Rich, pink, double flowers in early May. Young foliage coppery-red. Grows to 25 ft. and nearly as much through.
P. Oku-Mijako: large, double, pure white flowers in long-stalked hanging clusters appearing in May. Makes a rather flat-headed tree to about 15 ft.
P. padus Watereri: a large flowered form of the native bird cherry with 8 in. long racemes of white flowers. Grows to about 20 ft.
P. Pandora: white flushed pink flowers in early April. Grows to about 20 ft.
P. per ska: see PEACH.
P. Pink Perfection: carmine buds opening to carmine-pink flowers, often 2 in. across. Early April. Grows to about 25 ft.
P. Sargentii: single pink flowers in March, followed by reddish-bronzewhich are green in summer and red in autumn. Grows to 25 ft.
P. serrula: single white flowers at end of April. The redish-brown bark is the chief attraction. Grows to 25 ft.
P. sieboldii (Watered): light pink, semi-double flowers in April. A slow grower, taking some years to reach even 5 ft. Ultimate height about 15 ft.
P. subhirtella: the spring cherry which includes several very attractive forms, the most striking being P. s. fukubana with semi-double rose-madder flowers in late March. It ultimately attains about 20 ft.
P. s. autumnalis: bears semi-double white or pinky-white flowers in autumn and in winter during mild spells. On light soils the colour is inclined to be washy and the pink form rosea is more pleasing.
P. Tai-Haku: large, single white flowers often 2y2 in. across in April. Young foliage coppery-red. Height about 20 ft.
P. tenella: the dwarf Russian almond which bears bright pink flowers on 3 to 4 ft. bush in April P. t. gessieriana is a rosy-crimson form P. triloba fore pleno: a. popular almond with rosette-shaped, very pale pink double flowers in April. Though perfectly hardy, it is happiest on a south wall. The flowering shoots should be cut back hard directly after flowering to encourage new wood which will blossom the following spring. Grows to about 10 ft.
P. Ukon: greenish-yellow, semi-double flowers in April. Grows to about 15 ft.