Sunday, April 11, 2010

Five Weeping Cherries

Five Weeping Cherries ... sounds like a line from the Christmas song about a partridge in a pear tree, doesn't it? But this story about weeping cherries has nothing to do with winter and everything to do with spring!
The Japanese weeping cherry, of which there are many varieties, is a plant of great beauty, flowering briefly but elegantly in the early spring. The young saplings are expensive and difficult to establish in zone 5-6 here in east central Illinois. And even older trees rarely bloom like they did this year -- either because the buds are nipped by the spring frosts we often have, or the fragile blooms are quickly knocked to the ground by the torrential spring rains we sometimes have, or the delicate flowers appear but dry up and fry in the unexpected heat we sometimes have, even in spring. But this year was unusual and exceptional.

For several years, we had been dropping by an area not far from our house to check on a weeping cherry that we had once seen in bloom. This past weekend, we went there and found it in full and glorious bloom! But the tale continues ...
As we drove on down the street on the way to run an errand, we stopped suddenly (no car behind us, thankfully) at the sight of yet another, a second weeping cherry. We must have driven past that tree before, but, without the graceful drooping shape defined by the airy pink flowers, we didn't identify the tree before or even notice its existence.
We had turned around in a driveway to get on the right side to photograph the tree, and so then we entered another residential street in order to head out for our original errand. Lo and behold, there were TWO more weeping cherries to be found in that block!
Some of the trees were smaller, some larger, but all of them were in really full and perfect bloom.
It was so exciting that, as soon as we returned home, I phoned Frank Cooper (aka Frank the Supergardener), a connoisseur of flowering trees and interesting plants of all kinds, and told him about the five weeping cherries. Soon afterward, he sent me his own excellent photo of one of them and a photo of a SIXTH cherry not far from his house (which is not far from our house)!
The next day was Saturday and we went out to brunch with Frank. On the way, we discovered three more weeping cherries (on a busy street so we couldn't take photos), giving us a grand total (so far) of NINE!
Of course, there are, doubtless, other weeping cherries in bloom right now on residential streets in areas further afield than southeast Urbana, many in Champaign, for example, that we haven't yet discovered.
But I think a conclusion can be drawn on the basis of the "nine" weeping cherries that this is a spectacular spring in many ways. This is the first time in a very long time that so many flowering trees and bulbs are all blooming at once and for an extended period! I hope you enjoyed the tale of the weeping cherries. Are there any in bloom where you live, dear readers? Please leave comments.


  1. Absolutely lovely! I want one. I have never seen one before. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Susan, a beautiful spring indeed. I have my fingers crossed for our more tender species of plants and praying the gorgeous weather will continue(we came close to disaster a few nights ago with below 32 temps). Went driving in Indiana after the fiber festival in Greencastle on Saturday and the forests were spectacular with redbud and dogwood.
    This was a great article. Thank you.

  3. Susan

    I am often asked about the Weeping Cherry on Coler. It is a real show stopper when the spring is ideal. My guess is that the Coler Weeping Cherry led to the planting of a good percentage of weeping cherries in the neighborhood.

    Mike Brunk, Urbana City Arborist