When there’s a breeze, you can see them swirling around, the delicate white petals of the ornamental pear tree. If you look carefully, you’ll notice them on the ground too before they are swept up by fastidious gardeners or the next gust of wind. It’s our version of snow, at least that’s what my daughter used to call them when our neighbor’s trees would begin the lovely process of dropping the tiny white flowers and replacing them with bright green leaves.
This time of year, they are the first harbinger of spring and can been seen all over our neighborhood. An early spring bloomer, the trees produces sheets and masses of tiny white flowers. Bright green leaves follow the delicate flowers but no fruit, thankfully for those who don’t like the mess.
The evergreen variety pyrus kawakamii is most often seen espaliered along walls and sides of homes. Both varieties tolerate all manner of pruning abuse said garden designer, Helen Hartung. “I love the way they look in the spring but I don’t always use them in gardens because they are prone to fire blight, a bacterial disease that causes the branches to turn black,” said Hartung.
Hartung prefers to use Cercis occidentalis commonly know as the Western redbud tree because it’s native, is less thirsty and likely to be more sustainable over the long term in our gardens. The pink flowers won’t be mistaken for snow though.