Posted by: lensweb | April 12, 2016

The Cherry Orchard

The  Cherry Orchard

Mon Apr 11,  Nottingham University Cherry Tree Walk

Meet 4.30pm Main Visitor Car Park (free after 4pm). From West Entrance, after barrier carry straight along Beeston Lane, looping round for approx ¾ mile, then at small roundabout turn right on to Cut Through Lane. Main Visitor Car Park is about 400 yds on the right.

Grid ref   SK 543 384                     Postcode   NG7 2RD

 Leader: Graham Piearce

‘All (England) is our orchard. The earth is so wide, so beautiful, so full of wonderful places.’

In Japan, cherry blossom symbolises clouds, and is a metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life, but as a group, cherries have a long season, there are always some which have just flowered, some in full bloom and some ‘forthcoming attractions’.  Graham Piearce’s Nottingham University Cherry Tree Trail highlights 25 different cherries in three main areas, the Millenium Garden, Sherwood Hall  and the Old Studio by Lenton and Wortley Hall.

A splash of pink by the car park sent us on our way past the graceful Grand ballerina, Amelanchier lamarckii, it’s starry white flowers and edible fruit ideal for a small garden, not a cherry. Also a prunus but not a cherry, erect racemes of showy white flowers peered from the shiny glossy green obovate leaves of the cherry laurel Prunus laurocerasus, but it is poisonous and aggressively invasive, why is it so widely planted? The nearby Portugal laurel Prunus lusitanica has darker ovate leaves.

We walked through the rockery to the winter gardens to see the white flowers of the purple leaved cherry plum Prunus cerasifera ‘Pissardii’  which blooms in  January, it was discovered in the Shah of Persias garden in Tehran by Renee Pissard, the form nigra has pink flowers. On our way we paused to look at a Chinese Privet Tree Ligustrum lucidum which we had never seen before but is gaining popularity as a small evergreen pest free, street tree. The panicles of white flowers smell unpleasant and the fruit, rarely set, is poisonous.

meme privet12dyzz


Flat topped gently weeping was a row of the double white petalled Shirotae, Mount Fuji cherry, just breaking bloom. This cherry starts life upright with just 5 petals per flower it develops its weeping habit and double flowers with age. There are hundreds of named forms of Japanese garden cherries and they can be grouped according to their flower structure. If the bloom has 5-8 petals, they’re classed as single flowered. 10-20 are semi-double, 25-50 are double flowered and the final group is chrysanthemum flowered, and these generally have more than 100 petals

Many Japanese cherry varieties have been imported to the UK over the years but native species remain popular too. All cherry leaf stalks have extra-floral nectaries to attract insects.  Key differences are,  Japanese cherries Prunus serrulata have flowers in corymbs, whereas native cherry flowers Prunus avium have rosettes (umbels) and leaves with blunt points, the leaves of the Japanese cherry have whiskers!


At the entrance to the Millenium garden Pyrus calleryana ornamental Chanticleer pears were in bloom, introduced from Ohio in 1970 they are now a popular urban planting. The white blossom of native blackthorn glares stark against the leafless spiny black twigs, not to be confused with Prunus cerasifera the native cherry plum which also flowers in hedges in late January, which has larger, whiter flowers and is often used for rootstocks. All of our plums and damsons are hybrids between these two species.

In the old orchard the  loveliest of trees, with huge white flowers, ‘Tai Haku’ or the great white cherry, originated in Japan but was propagated and saved from extinction by cherry expert Collingwood ‘Cherry’ Ingram in the early 1900s when he discovered an aged tree in a Sussex garden. It was just just beginning to flower. We looked up at a very old specimen of The Tokyo or Yoshino Prunus x yedoensis cherry, flowering, it was cauliflowery, flowering directly from the stem.

Prunus avium our native cherry, gean or mazzard, is an attractive tree with sprays of 3 flowers, it has good autumn colour and wonderful timber. A good investment for farmer’s planting new groves of trees if they can obtain a Woodland Grant. The grove planted by the Orchard Hotel is an unusual sight for us.  We were briefly distracted in the car park by Malus floribunda a Japanese hybrid apple which is unknown in the wild, pink tinged white blossom ready to explode into flower. Prunus avium ‘Plena’ a double white cherry is about to flower. The last pink flowers of a plum x apricot hybrid could be an apriplum or a plumcot. Mind the road then gasp with wonder at the strong pink semi-double blossom of Accolade (sargentii x subhirtiella) Made in Britain in the 1950s. Photo-opportunity.


We passed the National Champion elm Ulmus ‘Sapporo’ Autumn Gold on the way to the rare collection of cherries in the Old Studio Gardens at Lenton and Wortley Hall. The banded claret bark of the Sheraton or Tibetan Cherry is smooth shiny touchy feely.  It is a street tree in Alaska and likes it cold.

meme tibetan12dueq

The Manchurian cherry (Prunus maackii) is also grown for its glossy tawny back. Beautiful in March, the Yeddo or Spring Maiden is the most widely planted cherry in Japan. Here it is planted in groups of 3, one of which is Pandora, it is the same spectacular cherry seen on the aging avenue near the Lakeside Arts Centre. It is also planted in the gardens of the White House in Washington.

meme yeddo spring maiden

There is a solitary tree of the uncommon Chinese Flowering Cherry Prunus serrulata ‘Alboplena’  which has distinctive horizontal boughs with numerous lumpy spurs. An early introduction in 1822, it set in trend the nomenclature of all subsequent cherry hybrids.

meme Chinese Flowering Cherry Prunus serrulata ‘Alboplena’12du7s

Prunus sargentii excellently named Sargent’s White Cherry is a true wild species from Japan, single bright pink flowers cover the crown as bronze-red new leaves start to unfold. It has reliable early autumn colour. By Lenton Firs is a Diddy version of the Tokyo cherry, P x yedoensis ‘Shidare-yoshino’ is widely planted and suitable for small gardens, soon to flower. Some new plantings near the Built Environment Eco buildings are ‘The Bride’ Prunus incisa, suitable for small gardens with striking red anthers peeping from pale pink flowers. We all agreed that the delicate single pink flowered Pandora was the easiest cherry to name as it still had the label on.

bride meme


Upswept branches like a bird in flight in a row alongside the Cripps Building are the Seagull (Umineko), a similar variety easier to source, is Snowgoose. It is flowering, lucky for us, as it is a seven day wonder, the beautiful white flowers soon screened by green leaves. At this point we were surprised to find out that we were back at the car park. The spell was broken and it started to rain.


Visit Nottingham University Gardens now or Batsford Arboretum has held the National Collection of Japanese Flowering Cherries since 2002 Have a blossom-tastic time!

‘The (University!)” Looking around, she feels like a young girl again. It’s going to be very hard for her to part with this place.’

Marion Bryce 12 April 2016


  1. Many thanks for lovely articles and photos about worthwhile events!


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