Garden Notes

Flowering Plum Tree

2005 August 8
by mike

We have a flowering plum tree (Prunus x blireiana) in our back yard. Its deep burgundy leaves contrast strikingly with its light pink, fragrant flowers that pop out in early spring. During the first month of spring, the flowering plum tree really has no match.

It starts out as a bare, dark-barked tree and as the temperatures start to reach the mid- to upper-40s and the daylight is still around after the day’s commute home, small dark pink flower buds add a hint of color to the branch tips. Then, suddenly, the flower buds burst open, covering the tree with a perfumed layer of delicate blossoms. The flowers are tiny with almost-white petals and with dark pink stamens protruding from their centers.

After a week or so of sweet smelling blooms, the petals start falling like a mid-March snow. While the plum tree sheds is blossoms, its leaves start to emerge. The young leaves, shiny and soft, surround the ever-thinning flowers, slowly turning the tree from a light strawberry-frosting-pink to a dark, well, plum-colored purple. At times, when the light is right, the tree is almost black; when the sun shines through the leaves from behind the tree, however, it glows with a merlot-tinted hue.

As the summer burns on, small plums appear throughout the branches. Our plum tree has small fruit–plums only an inch across. The seeds take up the majority of the plum’s insides; the rest, however, is filled with an intensly sweet juice. It’s no wonder the local birds love them. Last year a regular group of birds would fly back and forth from the tree, taking plums to who-knows-where in their beaks. Smaller birds would perch on the branches and pierce the plums and lap up the juice. Luckily, they left a few for us to enjoy.

After all of the plums have been eaten and the temperatures start to drop, the flowering plum tree starts to let go of its leaves, covering the ground this time with its dark red litter. Most of the leaves fell into our flowerbeds; I just left them where they fell to act as a mulch to keep the tulip bulbs a bit warmer over the winter. The rest were raked up and spread among the other flowerbeds. Finally, the tree’s dark branches contrasted against the gray winter skies, resting up for the next year’s spring show.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. 2010 March 16
    Marian Lenz permalink

    That was a wonderful description of a beautiful tree.

  2. 2011 June 4
    john permalink

    I have four and two look like they are wilting,missing lots os leafs.they are 6 years old.

    any ideas?


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