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March and April in the garden are two of the busiest months of the year, there really is so much to do.  If it has been a long winter, then there is still clearing up, and probably lots of preparation work to do, but if it has been mild then hopefully growing will be in full swing.

March and April are two of the best months to enjoy trees, many of the flowering trees put on a great display of blossom before coming into leaf, and even those with no blossom have vibrant new shoots appearing which can be as colourful as any flowers.  Many associate blossom trees in the spring with ornamental cherry trees, but these blossom trees are actually a mix of ornamental cherry, plum and almond trees. The first to flower are generally the plums, there is an avenue of trees in Eastfield Road in Wellingborough, with the very pale pink, small flowers of the dark leaved plum which always signify to me that spring is really on its way. 

For many, the true blossom trees are the Japanese flowering cherries, which were bred in the Far East and have wonderful names like ‘Tai Haku’, ‘Shirofugen’, ‘Shirotae’ and ‘Okame’, all of which evoke thoughts of Japanese temples with lakes and flowers dripping of the trees.  In the UK we have a native cherry called the bird cherry, or prunus avium, which has clear white flowers; it is a lot bigger than some of the dainty Japanese cultivars, so always ask advice as to what is most suitable for your garden.  For me though, some the best spring-flowering trees are the crab apples; they can be a bit more resilient to strong spring winds, and the range of colours is also more extensive, from whites and pale pinks, all the way through to the very dark leaves and deep red flowers of varieties such as ‘Royalty’.

There are also a host of other trees that create spectacular shows at this time of year.  Mixing a beautiful laburnum ‘Vossii’, or golden rain, with a lilac wisteria can create the most dramatic effects, especially if grown on an arch or even better in long curved arbour.  Do be careful about the seed pods of the laburnum as they can be poisonous. Another family of trees that have a wide appeal are the ‘Sorbus’.  This actually forms two distinct tree families: the rowans and the whitebeams. 

The rowans are beautiful trees, with white flowers followed by berries that can be white, red, yellow or pink depending on variety; they also have stunning autumn colour, so they are one of my favourite trees for year round interest.  The whitebeams have similar flowers, but often have leaves that have a very pale, almost white, textured finish; they also have good autumn colour, but not to the same extent as the rowans. However, my favourite spring tree is one of the latest to leaf up, and its flowers are relatively insignificant. 

The golden Indian bean tree - catalpa bignonoides aurea - has the most intense golden leaves which are quite large, so form a good deal of shade, once the tree has matured it does have lots of delicate creamy white flowers, a real thing of beauty.  As you can guess, trees are one of my passions, they come in so many shapes and sizes, provide interest at all times of the year, can be grown in the ground or in a pot and provide their own ecosystem for birds and insects as well as cleaning the air that we breathe

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