I know. I already saw more cherry trees in bloom this year than anyone would probably want to see.
But here I was, going back to the New York Botanical Garden in quest of the Higan cherry, which has stupendous flowers not only in spring, but reflowers in fall. What magic. Prunus subhirtella, apparently a wild cherry from Japan, was introduced in this country around 1862, and the weeping version, pendular, is especially popular.
We heard that we would find one in the rock garden, and followed some paths to find it. Saw the less genteel back side, literally, of NYBG when we took a picture of a gardener hard at work. He shouted at us to stay on the path.
Admired some fiddlehead ferns, as the straw-bonneted garden docent leading a tour kvetched about the excessive foraging that has made this delicacy hard to find..
The rock garden was profusely in bloom.
We passed a huge, bulbous tree as we entered. But no cherry. We asked another straw bonnet if she knew where it was. Ask him, he’s the boss, she said.
I can look up any plant in the garden with this, he said, balancing his tablet. A tech head with dirty hands.
Well, it looks like you’re a couple of weeks late for the Higan cherry to bloom, he said. But as soon as you exit the rock garden you’ll see it.
We’d already seen it! But I had never seen a cherry like it. When I think of cherries, I think of lenticels, which allow a gas exchange between the atmosphere and the tree’s internal tissues. I just think they look cool.
They help the tree breathe.
The NYBG’s Higan cherry had nary a lenticel. It had grown past the need for lenticels, it would seem. It was an elephant among cherries, a behemoth. A cherry tree in the same sense that King Kong was an ape.
When you stood away a ways it took up the sky. The boss had said to look for the white petals scattered beneath the tree. Even a straw bonnet would be hard pressed to find one.
You don’t have to consult a tablet to know they’ll be back in fall.