It’s a cool, breezy Spring here in Anchorage, with partly cloudy skies and not much rain. The upside is that the flowers are holding their blooms longer and plants are growing strong and sturdy. And the light is good for capturing great flower pictures. Some plants just seem to glow!
By now you’ve seen the beautiful flowering shrubs around town. You probably wish you had one on your property, since they are one of the first things to bloom here. The good news is that these all these plants I will mention should be available at local nurseries now. You may find potted plants from last year’s stock or look for bare-root plants (this is plant material that has not been potted up). Bare rooted plants are often on sale because there was no labor involved in potting them up.
The yellow plant that you have seen is the Forsythia, named after William Forsyth, a Scottish gardener who became superintendent of the Royal Garden of Kensington Palace. The most common pronunciation is for-SITH-ee-uh, but you may hear for-SIGH-thee-uh. When your flowering shrubs become large enough, you can prune them to shape it in late Winter and bring the cut branches inside for forcing in a vase of water. (See my previous post on this topic, Forcing Spring.)
With Alaska’s cool Spring this year, the Forsythias have held their blooms beautifully!
The second plant I have in mind is the Nanking Cherry (Prunus tomentosa). I have been growing mine for many years. It is a vigorous bush with small light pink flowers that turn into delicious slightly tart cherries which my family makes into jam for scones. Taken with a hot cup of coffee or tea in the winter, it’s a taste of summer, sunshine. It’s Winter hardy here in Zone 4 USDA, moderately fast-growing, and native to China, Japan, and the Himalayas. I see it around town peeking over fences like a pink cloud.
The third bush I have in mind is the Flowering Almond, Prunus triloba, aka Rose Tree of China, aka Flowering Plum. Years ago, one of the oil companies handed these out on Arbor Day as a “liner” in Anchorage, so now you see the beautiful pink flowers all over Anchorage. A liner is a small, single, rooted stem. From 12–24 inches tall.
All three of these shrubs can be planted as a hedge or a single specimen plant. Flowers last for up to two weeks in ideal conditions.
All of these shrubs should be planted this summer for blooms next Spring. Remember you can cut woody branches in late Winter and force them into bloom indoors.