Honey bees are happy to find my Nanking Cherry (Prunus tomentosa) is now in full bloom.
Today the shrub is in full bloom, loaded with lovely pinkish-white blossoms that cover every dark brown branch from top to bottom. It’s always the first shrub to bloom in my yard, well before I’ve had a chance to tidy up the perennial garden. Dark green leaves will follow shortly.
It’s always a nice surprise to look out my office window and see these flowers burst open in April looking a little like a popcorn bush, while many other trees and shrubs are just starting to think about spring.
The Nanking Cherry is a good choice for gardens and gardeners in Zone 3 and higher. It’s hardy through cold, dry winters. It grows quickly and can spread to at least 6 feet wide. It can also take the summer heat and wouldn’t consider wilting even when times are dry.
But I think its best attribute is being able to serve up an early sweet treat for hungry honey bees. There’s not much food available for them just yet.
In summer, these blossoms will grow into small cherries that ripen to a bright red. I like their tart taste, but leave them on the bush for birds and other wildlife to enjoy.
Arbor Day is just around the corner and if you don’t have room in your yard for another tree, consider planting a Nanking Cherry. The bees will definitely appreciate your efforts.