Amelanchier lamarckii – a small tree with a big presence

One of my favourite moments of spring has to be the flowering of Amelanchier lamarckii on the edge of the orchard. It is admittedly rather fleeting, flowering for a couple of weeks at most, but it is an absolute delight.

Originally from eastern Canada it was probably brought over to France in the second half of the nineteenth century but is now widespread across Europe in both gardens and in the wild 1 . It is also known as juneberry, serviceberry and snowy mespilus.

It is a small to medium sized tree with a light, open habit. In spring the fresh young leaves are an unusual mix of bronze and green shades which create a striking background to the white, star shaped flowers. Later in the year this plant also provides good red autumn colour as the leaves prepare to fall.

Our tree sits on the edge of the orchard on the north side of a mixed shrubbery. It seems to require very little maintenance and returns to please without fail year after year. These pictures were all taken on 16th April 2021 when it was in its full glory. Rather conveniently it flowers at the same time as the yellow Berberis darwinii and I think the combination works really well together.

In my view no garden should be without this very special tree.

1 CABI Invasive species compendium

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Six on Saturday in March – White

All the hedgerows are now full of white Blackthorn blossom. I usually think of May as being the ‘white’month and March as rather more towards the ‘yellow’. Although there is no doubt that the narcissus and primroses are beautiful and in full swing, there does seem to be a wide range of white blooms in the garden at the moment. Choosing just six has been rather a challenge but here are my six for this week.


One: Amelanchier lamarckii

Amelanchier is a real star of the spring garden. The white flowers last only a short time but create a wonderful cloud of fine bloom in the shrub garden. But it is not only the blooms that excel at this time of year but also the new copper foliage which looks lovely alongside the white flowers and the fresh green spring foliage of many other shrubs and trees.

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Two: Plum

The first of the orchard trees to flower is the apricot but the plum is not far behind. When we planted the orchard 25 years ago we thought that it would be good to plant something with some local provenance. This variety is ‘Warwickshire Drooper’, a yellow egg plum with a beautiful wine plum flavour. Although now quite an old tree it still produces far more plums than we can cope with. It does make a wonderful jam.

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Three: Thalia narcissus

One of our favourite narcissus is the delicate multi-headed white Thalia. Reliably returning each year they are always a pleasure and create a lovely show.

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Four: Clematis armandii

One of our earliest flowering clematis in the garden, this fragrant armandii was originally planted to climb up a large eucalyptus which has now long since died. However it is a survivor and has now adopted a variegated Pittosporum that has grown up in its place over the last couple of years.

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Five: Spirea thunbergii

We would not be without the long lasting, crisp white flowers of Spirea. They are an important part of the garden each year contrasting here with the yellow and green foliage of Euonymus fortunei Emerald ‘n’ Gold. The first of these is Spirea thunbergii (below) followed later in the year by the dramatic arching flowering stems of Spirea x arguta ‘Bridal wreath’ .

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Six: Magnolia stellata

The magnolias this year have been spectacular. The blooms do not seem to have been damaged at all by frost or rain and have lasted much longer than in previous years. Last on my list of six but certainly not least.

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The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.

The Dunnock – singing its little heart out in the February sunshine and inspiring poetry.

I would definitely categorised the Dunnock (Prunella modularis) as a ‘little brown job’, quietly moving about in the garden under growth eating small insects, spiders, worms and seeds.

Normally if we hear colourful and melodic birdsong it is typically a robin or wren and to date we have not really associated the Dunnock (or Hedge Sparrow) as a significant part of the spring chorus.

Over the last few days of February this year (2019) the temperature has been unseasonably warm in our garden in Warwickshire and it has brought everything to life. Not only have we enjoyed the sunshine and blue skies but clearly the birds have as well.

I was lucky enough to capture this little Dunnock on camera in the afternoon sunshine. It stayed put long enough to capture its song, clearly communicating with another Dunnock that you can hear in the background responding between the phrases.

We have written in the past about how the garden has inspired a couple of artists (Jenny Lucey and Petra Rich-Alexandre) but for the first time we have inspired a poet. My friend Paul Waring on seeing this clip on Facebook was moved to verse and I am delighted that he has agreed to allow me to publish it here alongside this clip.

Hedge Sparrow sings this Spring like day,
Before the first of March,
No Willow quite yet out in leaf,
Or Oak, Elm, Birch or Larch,
Another is but a field away,
No time to waste or wait,
With food to gather,
Nests to build,
A place to rest and mate,
We’re fools to think the Winter’s gone,
While Sun hangs long and low,
This time last year the snows had come,
Before the cold could go,
But harken at the sweet bird song,
In hope of longer days,
Then marvel at the Dunnock’s voice,
With sunshine that’s ablaze.

© Paul Waring 2019

More of Paul’s creativity can be found on his Facebook poetry page .

Six shades of pink on Saturday

Happy Easter Saturday!  There is no doubt that the yellow daffodils and primroses are now in full swing but a quick tour of the garden shows that there are also some interesting shades of pink that are looking good.  Here are my Six on Saturday for 31 March from Warwickshire.

OneChionodoxa forbesii ‘Giant Pink’ (which is actually much pinker than the photo suggests)

Chionodoxa forbesii

Two: Viburnum bonariensis (which has been flowering its heart out all winter to provide a dusky perfume across the winter garden)

viburnum bonariensis

Three: Hyacinth (just emerging and starting to create the fragrant patio garden)

Hyacinth

FourHelleborus orientalis (these have been flowering now for sometime and are wonderful at this time of year)

Helleborus orientalis

Five: Bergenia cordifolia (a very common plant but one that provides such dramatic lush foliage throughout the year with its large elephant ears)

Bergenia cordifolia

Six: Flowering cherry (providing such a rich source of nectar for the bees at this time of year)

Flowering cherry

This is my first meme outing with Six on Saturday hosted by The Propogator.  Click on the link to see what other Plantaholics are chatting about.