Last night (5/12/19) the forecast high winds caused us to cancel our Christmas light show. The highest gust recorded in the garden was 43mph. This was enough to fell a 84 year old Prunus serrulata. The tree had been in decline and the upturned root plate revealed decayed roots most likeley caused by Honey fungus which is a known problem in this area of the garden. The falling tree damaged young trees of Acer rufinerve and Malus toringo luckily these had been planted in triplicate and the best trees remain untouched.
When a tree blows over it catches our attention. This specimen was never one that had sparked my interest before but suddenly it becomes of interest. We ask the question what did we loose? The Prunus serrulata was grown from seed in 1935. It is listed as having been received from Captain Collingwood Ingram. Colliingwood Ingram was a plant collector and gardener and an authority on Japanese flowering cherries. He introduced many Japanese and other species of cherries to the United Kingdom, as well as creating his own hybrids. He is famous for reintroducing an extinct Cherry; ‘Taihaku’ the Great White Cherry to Japan.
Suckers – Vigorous young shoots sprouting from the roots offer some hope of propagating this specimen to allow it to be retained in the collection if we need to. Prunus serrulata is no longer very common in British gardens, having been replaced by double-flowered varieties of Japanese origin with greatly extend flowering periods. Although very pleasing these are often infertile and poor sources of nectar and pollen.
It is likely that this was a garden form of Prunus serrulata imported from Japan as this was Collingwood Ingrams area of interest. Our only other accession named as Prunus serrulata is a more recent introduction made by RBGE staff (Dickson, Brown and Tricker 2015) from Yunnan. It was planted out in 2017 and is growing on the Oak lawn in Edinburgh and at Benmore Botanic Garden.
Plants grown from the 2015 Accession – 20150176 require verification.
Collingwood Ingram believed Prunus serrulata to have been introduced to Japan from China. Interestingly the accepted name in Flora of China is Cerassus serrulata and three distinct varieties are recognised.