Prunus serrula: a perfect tree for almost any garden
We are often asked to include a tree or two in the gardens we design for our customers, and one of the trees that I love to include in nearly all of my planting plans regardless of the size and shape of the garden is Prunus serrula. It is a simply wonderful tree. Also known by the common names of ‘Ornamental Cherry’ and ‘Tibetan Cherry’, it is believed to originate from Western China.
So what makes P. serrula so special? Well, to start with it is a slow-growing and small deciduous tree with a rounded growth habit and narrow mid-green leaves. This makes it a good choice for a wide variety of gardens. It is also a really 'good value' tree, providing interesting colour in autumn as the leaves turn yellow, and attractive white blossom in early spring.
The attribute, however, that makes Prunus serrula worthy of ‘plant of the month’ status is its beautiful ornamental bark. Glossy and gloriously deep coppery-red in colour, the outer layers naturally peel away and catch the sunlight in a particularly attractive way.
Such wonderful bark (see picture above) makes P. serrula a fantastic option as a ‘focal point’ tree, deliberately positioned to attract and lead the eye. It works well as a standalone ‘feature’ in a lawn, or towards the middle or front of a mixed-planting border. Good-sized specimens are widely available online and at garden centres and nurseries, either as single-stem or multi-stem varieties (a great choice if you’re looking for extra eye-level interest).
To help the colourful bark really stand out I’d recommend trying to position P. serrula against a contrasting backdrop- a dark hedge (such as yew or holly) or a lightly coloured wall are both excellent foils. Low-level underplanting can also be very effective, and plenty of our more popular herbaceous perennials (for example Geranium, Alchemilla and Heuchera) will grow happily beneath it’s relatively light canopy.
P. serrula is a versatile tree, and will happily grow in most soil-types and conditions. It is worth, however, avoiding very exposed positions as in my experience it doesn’t really like to be regularly battered by strong winds. Very wet soils may also be an issue, but this tends to be true of most trees.
With typical mature heights of 6-10m P. serrula is suitable for most garden sizes, so if you're looking for an interesting and attractive garden tree you could do a lot worse than a beautiful Prunus serrula.
Tythorne Garden Design provides professional fixed-fee garden design solutions for customers in Grantham, Stamford, Newark and surrounding areas. Let's see how we can help you to enjoy your garden more. Call us on 07900 224 239 or 01529 455 355.