January 30, 2009

Japanese Flowering Apricot for Winter Fragrance

Walking on a sunny, January day with my husband and greyhound, we happened upon this beautiful Japanese flowering apricot, Prunus mume.

These fast-growing small trees can reach a height and width of 15-25 feet.

Depending upon the variety and zone, the tree may begin blooming as early as December or as late as March.

Suitable for zones 6-9, there are over 300 cultivars from which to choose, ranging in color from white to soft pink to a deeper pink or red. The flowers may be either single or double and bloom for several weeks. The incredible fragrance will draw you closer to the tree, so plant one by your house or walkway for enjoyment. The summer foliage is dark green and the tree has a nice, rounded shape.

Japanese flowering apricot is deciduous and grows well in moist (not wet) soil and full sun locations.

On the downside, this tree may be short-lived. However, they are fast-growing and are often available as five foot potted trees for around $30. Since I have not tried this tree in my own garden, I cannot say whether or not the tree is deer resistant or resistant to Japanese Beetles.

The cultivar 'Peggy Clarke' is very popular here in zone 7 and can be found growing in flower gardens (especially attractive in Japanese gardens) and landscapes. Other cultivars include 'Kobai' that is pink-red and 'Fragrant Snow' for large, white flowers. Prunus mume 'Josephine' is supposed to be a hardy variety and produces soft pink blooms in February.

The popularity of Japanese flowering apricot is due, in large part, to the efforts of the late Dr. JC Raulston, who introduced this tree to our area. Combined with evergreens, Prunus mume is a wonderful, fragrant addition to a winter garden.

Story and photo by Freda Cameron
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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