Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Plum and Cherry Blossoms - late winter

Of the various ornamental Prunus trees which I grow, the first to flower is Prunus x blireiana. It is a cultivar form of an ornamental flowering plum. It does not set seed (at all - as far as I know). It is grown for the wonderful display of pink, double blossoms.It is reported to be a hybrid between the "Flowering Plum" (Cherry Plum) Prunus cerasifera Var atropurpurea and the very-early-flowering beauty Prunus mume (Flowering Almond) which I showed you some 7 weeks ago (growing in a friend's garden). I rightly named that post as the "Harbinger of Spring".
This flower has a delightful soft pink colour -
especially when the flowers are fresh - as this one is.
Here is a mature flower - paler in the petals
but the anthers (and the pollen) have gone dark.
A few metres along the pathway is the lovely "Taiwan Cherry" Prunus campanulatus. I was searching for an appropriate way to describe the colour of the flowers of this plant and I found in that website above - the description "neon pink".
At a distance from the tree the colour appears red - plain and simple.

But there are many things happening here. The base of the bud and the bracts (the surrounding shield-like covers which protect the bud before it has opened) are a bright red. The petals, however, as they open, have a distinct tinge of blue about them. This pigment changes their appearance beyond red - into the vague range of colour where our normal words do not go. It is not "purple". It is not "hot pink", so I shall settle on the words of that other author "neon pink".

The latin specific name "campanulatus" means "bell like".
As the flower matures, the stamens go dark. It shares that trend with the related plant above. This image has a lot of lens flare as I was trying to capture the dark eye of the flower, which is actually green.
There is another singularly beautiful feature of this plant - that is the way the flowers are held on the pendant sprays, beneath the two red bracts (which protect the entire flowering structure over winter).Further below these bracts, on the flowering stem, there are a set of finely fringed "leaves" (no doubt there is a technical term for them, but lets call them "leaves") which also shield the stem of three buds as the flowers develop. Once the flowers are fully developed these leaves revert to their basic function of harvesting sunlight for the energy of the plant.I just love the fact that this plant has these very fine "leaves" within the flowering structure. Very pretty, and unusual.

This Taiwan Cherry is a popular plant as a street tree in Bowral, but I love it for its early display of colour - and a dark red colour at that. It has been very reliable for me. my plant is nearing 5 metres tall, after being planted as a 1.5 metre "sapling" a mere 5 years ago. It seems resistant to insect attack, too, unlike the Japanese Flowering Cherry.


mick said...

Beautiful - again! You always find some part to show some macro photos - certainly makes me take a closer look at my environment- thanks!

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
Unfortunately, when I see the colour of the Taiwan Cherry flower on the screen, it does not do justice the real thing. It is much more beautiful than it shows here.
Re the Macro images, I am always saying to people to look in the details of the little flowers - even though Plum and Cherry flowers are not "small" compared to most "Natives".
There is a whole world available inside the things we see and normally take for granted.