Right On Schedule

There are some things that happen once a year, monumental things, things that get recorded due to their extreme importance, things that are brief in duration, but exquisitely beautiful. We count among those things the blooming of the Yoshino Cherry tree, Prunus Yedoensis, which is planted right in the middle of our front yard. This is the type of cherry tree planted in the tidal basin of Washington, D. C. which is celebrated in that city’s cherry blossom festival. Click
to view the official site for that event.

We have no lawn in our front yard. After the house was remodeled, once the sawhorses, lumber scraps, roof shingles, burger wrappers, drink cups and cigarette butts were all picked up, the sparse grass was dug up from the area. Rose Glo Barbarries, Girard’s Rose Azaleas, and Winterberry Hollies fill the level part that used to be mown. Lamb’s Ear was the ground cover between these shrubs and was mown once a year after it bloomed to remove the brown flower spikes and spread the seeds. We needed some vertical interest since all those shrubs were of a similar size. A small flowering tree was purchased at the big box store on sale. It was late fall, time to get those Christmas trees in and live material off the shelves. It was 2001. In late March of the following year, the tree bloomed. In less than a week, the petals were released from the blossoms and gently floated to the ground. By the next year, the tree had grown substantially and bloomed again in late March. This time we were the proud owners of a digital camera and captured that bloom in pixels, the year was 2003.

We were taking a lot of photos of the garden with the easy to use camera. The greatest thing about it was being able to run inside and load the pictures onto the computer immediately. And we could send them in emails to our friends and family. What a joy it was to be able to share the garden via the internet. While we liked to send shots of the flowers blooming, there was a fascination with the garden covered with the light blankets of snow that occasionally fell. Our cherry tree was decorated with lights encased in grape vine balls and was enchanting with the snow dusting. The tree was still small enought to reach the branches while standing on a small ladder to add and then subtract the light strings. This was a one time only happening, as the tree grew too large to decorate safely.

Each year the tree would grow a little more. The blooming was duly recorded with the camera.

The horizontal growth pattern was starting to show in the limbs of our dear tree. Some pruning was done to thin the middle for what was considered a more Asian style. One branch in particular was growing right out into the street. Another was headed for the telephone line going to the house next door. Pruning was done to remove these two large limbs. Why didn’t we see that coming? If done early on, the pruning could have been done while standing on the ground with the felcos. We used a small pruning saw to remove the future problem branches. The wounds were gaping, we dripped candle wax over them to keep insects out while the bark could heal over the cuts. It seems to have been a success.

All branches were growing in a non threatening direction now. Another late March passed with the cherry tree in blossom. It was now 2007, the year of the late hard killing freeze. But the freeze occurred in early April. The bloom was over for the tree before the freeze. No blooms were lost.

We even planted the same type of tree at one of the offspring’s houses, replacing a red maple planted by the builder of their new house with the smaller cherry. The red maple was relocated to the back where it would have room to spread over time and the roots would not threaten the driveway or foundation. The year was 2003. Light pruning has been done to remove rubbing branches and some of the lower limbs were cut to allow for easy passage in the small front yard. This is the bloom for this year, 2008.

This type of tree has become very popular not only in home gardens, but is used extensively in commercial areas as well. These rows of cherries line a large shopping center in Knoxville that is less than ten years old. The trees are well cared for, mulched properly, no volcanoes, and are underplanted with small hollies. Our rainfall is normally enough to keep plantings like these healthy, there are no sprinkler systems here.

The color of the blossoms is the palest possible pink, nearly white. The stamens are tinged with pink at the tips giving a little more color to the look from afar.

Our own tree this year, in peak bloom, every bud open, on March 30. It gives us great pleasure during the week it is open, and beyond that as the petals litter the earth, a magical sight. It is right on schedule.


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43 Responses to Right On Schedule

  1. garden girl says:

    Just gorgeous Frances! What a sight for winter-weary eyes!

  2. Gail says:


    You never disappoint this is a lovely narrative and photo history….
    and you can prune!


  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    What a beauty! I need to come over for pruning lessons. Ha.. I have had some before but they didn’t take. No really I just want to see your garden. 🙂

  4. Cinj says:

    Wonderful! I really wish they lasted a bit longer, but they’re great while they last.

  5. Dave says:

    The Yoshino Cherry is my favorite of the flowering trees. Yours looks great. The one I planted this spring is just starting to break its buds. I’ll post mine when it does although it won’t look nearly as nice as yours. My parents have three in their yard and they are great trees!

  6. Esther Montgomery says:


    This post interests me because here (in England) the cherries chosen for planting in avenues along roads, or in front gardens, tend to be horrid, lumpy, compact trees, coloured so brightly they look almost synthetic.

    The open pruning in your photos looks much lighter, much more pleasant and more ‘real’.


  7. The Giraffe Head Tree says:

    Exquisite! Breathtaking! We had two Yoshino’s in our former backyard and loved them fiercely. I’d forgotten just how beautiful they get. Surely there’s a small patch of land here upon my small yard where one will fit. Gosh, thanks for this vision of beauty this morning, Frances. Debi@ GHT

  8. Frances, says:

    Garden Girl, thanks and hope your own garden will soon be soothing those weary eyes.

    Gail, thanks, let’s just say I prune, but don’t really know what I’m doing. I would love to find a how to for these cherries to make them look like the DC ones.

    Lisa, you are welcome any time. My pruning is self taught and woeful, I need some lessons.

  9. Frances, says:

    cinj, thanks. The fact that the bloom is so short makes them even more special.

    Dave, thanks. It is fun to drive around our neighborhood to see these blooming now. But none are any older than mine, that must have been when they began being offered for sale here. I would love to see a more mature specimen in this area. How old are the ones at your parents’?

    Esther, thanks. These are subtle in their coloring and flower form. Hope you are feeling better.

    Debi, thanks. Hope you can find a spot for this tree, it really brightens my mood everytime I see it.

  10. Melanie says:

    Frances, these are so beautiful! My younger daughter is going on a school trip to Washington DC this coming weekend and I hope she gets to see the cherry trees there.

  11. artistsgarden says:

    What beautiful trees they are. I saw one in a friends garden last week and fell in love with it. Your post ensures I will put it on my wish list.

  12. Phillip says:

    I was just getting ready to post photos of mine. Isn’t it the most beautiful tree? I never pruned mine at all and it seems to be okay. I get distressed when people tell me that it is a short-lived tree. I sure mine hangs around while I’m still here. It is such a beauty.

  13. Frances, says:

    Melanie, thanks. On a school trip with Brokenbeat’s fifth grade class, I got to see my one and only view of those trees. I’ll never forget it, flowers everywhere and petals on the ground like snow cover, amazing.

    Karen, thanks and welcome. Hope you are able to find one of these trees for your garden.

    Phillip, thanks. Can’t wait to see your photos. My pruning had more to do with where the branches were going to obstruct something than necessity for the tree. With enough space, no pruning would be needed, something we lack here. But I believe those DC trees get some kind of expert pruning, wish I knew how to get that kind of info. But our tree is now too large for me to safely prune anymore.

  14. tina says:

    Wonderful post-as always and gorgeous pictures too. You are smart to do away with your front lawn. No mowing and gardens are so much better.

    Thanks for updating the link to my blog. I was going to ask but it has taken me awhile to get it all changed and I am kind of leisurely. I have added your blog to my sidebar as well. ttyl!

  15. Nancy J. Bond says:

    How absolutely beautiful! It reminds me of the apple orchards that will be in bloom here in NS…in another two months! 🙂

  16. joey says:

    How lovely, Frances. I can’t wait until my Yoshino Cherry tree blooms … though short-lived, the beauty lasts for when the wind blows, delicate petals fall like snow and cover the ground in a blanket of white. I was fortunate to visit D.C. during the cherry blossom festival … breathtaking!

  17. kjohnson says:

    Beautiful and informative. We are not there yet. Thanks for sharing.


  18. Frances, says:

    tina, thanks. We do have a small bit of lawn at the side of the garage, although it even keeps getting smaller as the flower beds seem to encroach over night. I don’t know how that happens!

    Nancy J., thanks. I’ll bet those apple orchards are a wonderful sight, flowers and food, doubly wonderful. Worth the wait.

    Joey, I agree, the petals on the ground are as lovely as when they are on the tree, so enchanting.

  19. tina says:

    frances, that is my excuse to my husband too! can’t figure out where all the lawn went!

  20. Sherry at the Zoo says:

    Amazing! I love this tree. Absolutely beautiful Thanks for sharing it with us.

  21. Frances, says:

    Tina, the case of the disappearing lawn, sounds like a good topic for a post!

    Sherry , thanks, glad you liked it.

  22. Katarina i Kullavik says:

    How beautiful! I just love japanese Cherry trees. We had some in our old house, and how I miss them! /Katarina

  23. Mr. McGregor's Daughter says:

    Does your tree have beautiful bark? My parents planted a mismarked Cherry tree in their back garden about 25 years ago (it was supposed to be a plum). Every year it gets better & now the bark is a gorgeous shiny copper. The flowers are pretty nice too. :^)

  24. Layanee says:

    I’ve been dreaming of Yoshino’s for years now. I have not seen them in DC yet and I am at the edge of their hardiness zone but with global warming I may yet be able to grow some. Your lovely pictures have satisfied a portion of my cherry tree lust! How lucky you are.

  25. Frances, says:

    Katarina, thanks, I would also miss not having this tree. Can you plant one where you garden now?

    MMD, I have seen that copper colored bark in magazines on the cherries, but alas, it is not on ours. It is kind of stripey in a round and round kind of way and pretty, but gray.

    Layanee, I don’t know about their hardiness, but things do seem to be changing in that department, don’t they?

  26. Meems says:

    Frances: The Yoshino tree is mighty stunning. I really like the way you’ve kept photos all along… it sure makes you appreciate your hard work and the progression of the garden doesn’t it?

    Of course they are not hardy down here in Florida so I will just have to enjoy yours… thanks for sharing it with us.
    Meems @Hoe&Shovel

  27. Frances, says:

    Meems, thanks. It is fun to see the progress of things like trees and shrubs that are small when planted. Sorry you can’t grow the cherries, I didn’t that. But you have the wonderful citrus with their sweet smelling flowers.

  28. Dee/reddirtramblings says:

    I enjoyed the history of your tree. What a gift you’ve given your yard. I applaud you for turning your front yard into a garden.~~Dee

  29. semi says:

    Our cherries are definate beauties, even if only for a week or so. I am glad we made the switch. And turkey creek is such a vision with the cherries in rows. I wish I could see the festival in D.C. Love semmi

  30. Blackswamp_Girl says:

    WOW! It’s fun to see the progression, but those flowers are so beautiful you don’t even need that to appreciate your cherry. No wonder it’s a rite of spring to see it bloom.

  31. Frances, says:

    Dee, thanks. Not having a front lawn is certainly freeing. There was weeding in the early years, less now that the shrubs have grown larger.

    Semi, One way to see the DC trees is to go along on Lu’s field trip some day. love.

    Kim, thanks. Rite of spring is a great phrase.

  32. Kate says:

    Oh, how lovely. I’m jealous. We’re growing a hardy variety in the backyard but so far she’s not big enough to put on such a pretty show. 🙂

  33. Frances, says:

    Kate, welcome and thanks for visiting. Your tree will be beautiful in time.

  34. Robin's Nesting Place says:

    Those are my favorites trees! They are spectacular when in full bloom.

  35. Frances, says:

    Robin, thanks. I go out each day and savor those petals, it makes the view out the front door transport one to paradise.

  36. Kylee says:

    Wow, Frances. Those are really gorgeous. I’ve seen them in person here once or twice and they are stunning!

  37. Frances, says:

    Kylee, thanks. And to add to our good fortune, they are lasting longer than usual with cooler temps. The trees still are lovely, hooray.

  38. Lori says:

    Nice! I planted a Texas redbud in my yard but I haven’t gotten a spectacular bloom from it yet. The buds always seem to be hit by a freeze.

  39. Frances, says:

    Lori, Thanks, I hear you about those late freezes, last year was the worst. Maybe this will be your year for the redbud.

  40. Kristen says:

    Beautiful tree! We have two young (this is their second spring planted here) Yoshinos in our front yard (in NH) which I just love. The blossoms are just gorgeous, and even my “expert” gardening neighbors came over this year to oooh and ahhh over them! I am very proud!

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