Cherries & Cherry Plums

The Meadows is most famous for the avenues of cherry blossom. There must be hundreds of thousands of pics online.

A couple of gorgeous aerial films of the cherries can be viewed here.

The full blossom doesn't last long, but the trick (for regular visitors) is to look out for the earliest growth. Long before the flowers burst out, a red fuzz spreads over the treeline (as can be seen in the main header photo of this blog).

First, the new growth on the twigs unfurls. The buds at first are deepest pink and the leaves, when they appear, are red

The blossom grows paler as it opens out

In the little enclosed park section behind the croquet club at Tollcross, two beautiful old cherries mix their white and pink flowers together.

Now appear the cricketers

And even the recruiters for the army

I had a clumsy go at videoing the wind through the blossom a few springs ago. I've no idea now where the bagpipes were coming from

And here's it starting to cascade on another windy day in mid-May, 2016


By this time the blossom is lying like pink snow

The Meadows cherries are late to turn to their autumn colours, and some years they don't provide much of a show

In good years though the avenues can be stunning

Even in the mists

(But occasionally there's a warm spell in autumn and people sit out between the two cherry avenues for a barbecue, as these brave lads were doing on the last day of October, 2015 ...)

And they can remain beautiful in the heart of winter.

One spring, many years ago, my daughter and one of her friends were walking through the cherries when they found a huge branch broken off. It was swathed in blossom. So they decided to carry it home. Once there, they poured water into every glass, cup and bowl in our flat. Then they filled them with sprigs of flowers. When I stepped in through the door, it looked like a fairytale. It's one of my favourite memories.

Cherry bark is easily recognised even when there are no leaves or flowers. Note the lichen and the lenticels in the photo above, and the metallic sheen and distinctive horizontal strips in the one below.

Most of the Meadows fruit trees are these mature Kanzan cherries, apart from a few especially old cherries here and there, which vary. Here's a chaffinch in an ancient cherry in the little park by Leven Terrace:

As of 2016, though, there are also three new Tibetan Cherries on Jawbone Walk, and more appearing elsewhere, such as one at the start of Leamington Walk on Bruntsfield. They're noticeable not so much for their flowers (which aren't quite as dramatic as the Kanzan cherries),

but rather their elegant red peeling bark.

What's interesting is that the bees seem more drawn to them than to the Kanzan cherries.

I'm hoping though that the Jawbone Walk and Coronation Walk avenues will be replanted mainly with the Kanzan. Those long sweeps of pink are one of the most-loved sights of spring in Edinburgh.

There are also a few new plantings of Black Cherry Plum trees: in particular, two in the little quiet playground to the east of the tennis courts, and a couple more on Leamington Walk. As of May 2016, they're still all protected by mesh tree guards.

The black cherry plums are the first of the park's fruit trees to flower: the first pic below was taken in February 2016. Like many other trees, they flower first and then come into leaf.

Here's one on a sunny March evening, looking tiny in the shade of a lovely old ash that's lit up by its bundles of remaining ash keys. These ash seed wings catch the light on bright winter days and look golden rather than the withered brown they actually are.

Shame I couldn't cut out the Quartermile crane behind the cherry plum, but at least the fluffy cloud floated by at the perfect time :)

It's worth looking out for the bird cherries, wild cherries and crab apples scattered about. These flower after the cherry plums, but before the Kanzan avenues, so blossom addicts can hope to find colour in the park in one place or another, for at least a couple of months.

There are some fine old native cherries along Leamington Walk, beside Warrender Park Terrace (and also a few gnarled and beautiful hawthorns)

In full bloom, the white blossom is like fluffy clouds in the sky

I'm not sure what  the late white blossom is on the neat little trees on Bruntsfield Links, at the foot of Whitehouse Loan, which are still blooming long after the other cherries are going over. It might be Japanese Cherry (Prunus Shimidsu) with its pink buds and green hearts

But the centre of the flower is pretty distinctive

Few of these trees bears any fruit, though. The exception is the wild and bird native trees, which do produce some small cherries after the blossom. These ones below appeared in June