Returning To The Fold

I have the opportunity to plant a tree this spring and it has me hugely excited. I’m going native. It will replace an old apple tree that is rotten to the core!

For the longest while I’ve been eager to plant a Shadblow tree. Aren’t you just charmed by the name? So much more endearing than its official nomenclature – Amelanchier. Shadblow has a certain homeyness to it – I wonder if the colloquial word came about because the falling flower petals resemble the shad as they navigate the waters during their spawning runs. Also known as Juneberry, serviceberry, chuckleberry or shadbush, this is, in my opinion, an ideal small tree that is remarkably underused in our gardens. I suppose as more exotic trees became available, the shadblow was pushed aside. Too familiar and commonplace. Well, it is time to bring this lovely American back into our midst.

Amelanchier is a four season tree. It is deciduous and depending on the variety, can grow to about twenty-four feet in height. There are several that are shorter. There are species of Amelanchier that grow all over the North American continent. No matter where you live there is a variety of this tree for you.

White, mildly scented flowers in loose racemes are produced in early spring. In June and July, the tree bears sweet, edible, dark purple-red fruit known as pomes. In the fall, the leaves turn colors in the full spectrum of autumnal shades. Red, yellow, orange and gold, the shadblow makes a stunning sight. And finally, in winter, the fastigate tree morphs into a sculptural presence. To think, this arboreal gem was always there and gardeners were looking further afield.

Easy to maintain, naturally suited to our climes, this is a no-brainer kind of selection. If I haven’t made an apostate of you as yet, this very tree was also highly recommended by the likes of no less than horticultural giant Marco Polo Stufano. The fact that when I asked him, he unhesitatingly came up with exactly the same tree as I did, made me feel as though I had not only been told that I was brilliant but that I’d been personally blessed by the Pope of Horticulture. Now are you a convert?
Illustration of Amelanchier
Photo credit: ‘Free images of Amelanchier’from Google Search
(c) 2014 Shobha Vanchiswar

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