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Amelanchier canadensis

Snowy mespilus

Actually this picture was taken a couple of weeks ago, and the blossom has finished since, but for all that its spectacular display is brief, when snowy mespilus flowers in spring it really steals the show.

These delicate, butterfly flowers are far more graceful than cherries: they’re less overblown, less in-your-face, far more comfortable in their own beautiful skin. These are not flowers that need to shout their arrival: they just appear one day, and everyone drops what they’re doing to stare.

One of the most lovely things about the snowy mespilus blossom is that it appears against the very young growth of the leaves, which at this time of year is tinged a coppery bronze. The combination will take your breath away. This is in many ways the perfect small garden tree: it will now clothe itself with vibrant pale green leaves all summer, provide striking purplish-black berries in autumn, and shed its leaves with a final flourish of vivid orangey-reds. It never gets too big, or too messy-looking, and it’s not too fussy about its soil – it even puts up with my free-draining sand. If you don’t have a mespilus in your garden, go out and buy one right away: you’re missing something very special.