April plant of the month

Amazing amelanchier dazzles in the spring sunshine

Amelanchier lamarckiiAmelanchier lamarckii is a deciduous shrub or small tree in the rose family. Native to North America and ranging from Alaska to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, it is known by many names; snowy mespilus, Juneberry, serviceberry, shadblow and shadbush and is one of about 20 species of Amelanchier. In its natural habitat it can be found growing along woodland margins or beneath larger trees, forming a shrub layer.

This AGM-winning plant looks great in all seasons. Initially white star-shaped flowers erupt through bronze-tinted leaves, then in summer these leaves mature to a vibrant acid green, together with purple fruits. It has fiery autumn colour, its leaves turning bright red, orange and gold.

Amelanchier is primarily a woodland plant and looks at its best when dotted through a deciduous woodland or naturalistic garden. Take a walk through a woodland garden in early spring - it’s a real treat to see these elegant trees dripping with dazzling white flowers sharing the stage with early-flowering rhododendrons and Cornelian cherries, underplanted with carpets of spring flowering bulbs.

As a small specimen tree Amelanchier lamarckii is agreeably manageable, reaching 4-5m (13-16ft) in 10 years. However it does have a slight drawback in that it does not have a definite habit: it suckers from the base, meaning it will quickly revert to a shrubby, multistemmed habit if not pruned to encourage a clean trunk. So gardeners are faced with a choice - relax and plant your amelanchiers among other trees and shrubs so their lax habit no longer becomes an issue, or prune carefully every year to maintain a clear stem.

If you are looking to plant a naturalistic style garden, or woodland garden; for a tree that looks good in all seasons, tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions and you are limited for space, then this may be the ideal tree for you.

See also

Top 10 flowering trees for small gardens

RHS advice: Trees for smaller gardens

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