Cherry blossoms have been a hot topic in Macon the past couple of weeks. Everyone wants a prediction for the peak bloom. If predicting weather and bloom time was in my skill set, I’d be making a lot more money than I am now! As anyone from Georgia knows, there is a great deal of variability in weather as we transition from winter to spring. This year, like those before, has everyone holding their breath. When these trees do hit full bloom, they will be a beauty to behold.
Each March, our community is filled with the pale pink blossoms. This wonder was started by William A. Fickling Sr., a local realtor who stumbled upon a Yoshino cherry tree in his backyard. Inspired by its beauty, he learned to propagate the tree to share with the community. As the number of trees ballooned, many were struck by their splendor, including Carolyn Crayton. Crayton partnered with Fickling to plant hundreds of trees, first in the Wesleyan Woods neighborhood, then later throughout the city. The Cherry Blossom Festival started in 1982 under the auspices of the Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission. Today, we are all able to reap the benefits of these individuals committed to making our community a better place to live. For more information about the 2018 Macon Cherry Blossom Festival, visit: http:// cherryblossom.com.
When most of us hear the word “tree,” it invokes thoughts of longevity — of a plant that will live for decades or even centuries. However, compared with some of the other genera, cherry trees are fairly short-lived. The average lifespan is anywhere from 15 to 25 years. As with many of the other close relatives, cherry trees require a certain number of chill hours to have uniform bloom and leaf set. Fortunately, during the past winter, we have received enough chill hours.
Cherry trees prefer slightly acidic, well-drained soil. They should be planted in full sun to maximize bloom. As with other trees, cherry one will suffer if they are planted too deeply. It is always better to err on the side of planting too high. Cherry trees do not respond well to prolonged droughts. Deep, infrequent watering can get the trees through the rough patches. Mulching will conserve moisture while preventing damage to the trunks by weed eaters and lawn mowers.
There are three different varieties that are appropriate for the Middle Georgia area.
Yoshino (Prunus x yedoensis) is the favorite cherry tree of Maconites. These trees quickly grow to 30 feet tall and wide with a rounded, spreading growth habit. The soft pink flowers bloom in early spring before the leaves develop. This species is prone to late frosts.
Okame (Prunus x incamp Okame) forms a small tree that is 15 to 20-feet-tall and 20-feet-wide. The‘Okame has an upright, oval silhouette. It is an early bloomer, with trees decorated with a multitude of single pink blooms.
Kwanzan (Prunus serrulata Kwanzan) has an upright spreading form that is 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide. The showy, unscented, double pink flowers bloom in mid-season.
If you are looking to purchase Yoshinos for yourself, Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful will offer them at Lowe Lighting Center March 16 and 19-23 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The Master Gardeners of Central Georgia will offer Kwanzan and Okame cherries at their annual spring plant sale located at the Macon State Farmer’s Market on Eisenhower. Trees and other spring plants will be available noon-5 p.m. March 22, March 23 8 a.m.-5 p.m. March 23, and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. March 24.
Contact Macon-Bibb County Cooperative Extension agent Karol Kelly at email@example.com.