Joys of Juneberry!

As a garden designer, one has to have a store of ready answers to often asked gardening questions.  These need to be confidently rolled off the tongue, without hesitation, to instil client confidence in your abilities.  I find that some practice is required here as the right answer may differ significantly between gardens, depending on the particular conditions found there, and with variance in client likes and expectations.  I also find that my answers change with experience so a review every now and then is worthwhile.

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Snowy Mespilus blossom

‘What is my favourite small garden tree?’ is a question that I have no problem answering.  I have had the same answer for the last five years and yesterday, on photographing my garden, I was reminded why this is so.  My favourite is the Snowy mespilus or Juneberry, Amelanchier lamarkii, from North America, which is flowering spectacularly at the moment.  This small tree of upright, vase-shaped, habit has something to offer in spring with its beautiful star-shaped white flowers followed closely by very attractive pinky-bronze elliptical leaves.  Later on, in the summer, there are black berries and in the autumn the leaves mature to a scarlet colour.

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Amelanchier lamarkii

I also find that this tree is highly adaptable.  It seems happy in a wide variety of soil types, although happiest in alkaline soils, and grows in full sun as well as partially shaded positions.  It looks great as a shrubby or multi-stemmed specimen too. Given time and space it could become quite large but it can also be kept easily as a small tree with judicious pruning.  I have two in my 10m x 20m side garden… so will be pruning soon!  True it does not have the brilliance of some of the Acers but the Royal Horticultural Society has given it the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) and I for one think this is thoroughly deserved.

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