THE JOURNAL FOR THE SOCIETY OF GARDEN DESIGNERS

Top cherry trees for gardens

Prunus ‘Matsumae-fuki’ aka ‘Chocolate Ice’. Photo: John Campbell


Chris Sanders RHS VMH, vice-chairman of the RHS Woody Plant Committee, chooses the best cherry cultivars for different situations


BEST NEWCOMER

Prunus ‘Chocolate Ice’ (aka P. ‘Matsumae-fuki’) is quite breathtaking when you see the new dark-brown foliage against large blush-white flowers.


BEST FASTIGIATE CHERRY

Even though there are many new fastigiate cherries, I still don’t think any supersede P. ‘Amanogowa’ AGM for confined spaces, as it has the narrowest 2m span.


Prunus ‘Fragrant Cloud’, also known as ‘Shizuka’. Photo: Chris Sanders


BEST FOR SMALL GARDENS

Compared with typical cherries, P. ‘The Bride’ AGM is a small, slow-growing tree, so after 25 years it will span roughly 5m. It flowers prodigiously; pretty pink buds are a lovely feature, as are its distinctive white flowers with red anthers.


BEST FOR SCENT

Flowering cherries are not known for their scent, but P. ‘Fragrant Cloud’ (aka P. ‘Shizuka’) has the most scent of them all. It has beautiful white flowers and turns orange-red in late autumn.


BEST FOR LAWNS

P. ‘Shirofugen’ AGM is unsurpassed for its large double flowers held at the end of long pedicels against young bronze foliage. As it’s almost the last cherry to flower, it extends the season into early May.


Prunus ‘Royal Burgundy’. Credit: Chris Sanders.


BEST PURPLE-LEAVED UPRIGHT

P. ‘Royal Burgundy’ AGM has dark-blackish purple leaves all summer that change in autumn to an exquisite wine red. The flowers are a lilac shade of pink. As a young tree, it is vase-shaped, so would be suitable for an avenue or smaller garden.


SHOULD BE GROWN MORE

P. ‘Taoyame’ AGM is one of my favourites. It makes an umbrella shape about 4-5m wide, with semi-cascading, almost weeping, branches. One of its main features is the young coppery-bronze foliage against pale pink or blush white flowers.

Discover how to design with cherry trees and top tips for growing them here


Prunus ‘Taoyame’. Credit: Chris Sanders