April's plant of the month: Amelanchier

New spring growth, full of promise, stands out in the garden this time of year. One plant in particular rings the changes in dramatic fashion

Spring flowers of Amelanchier 'Snowflakes'A sight not to miss in the garden this month is Amelanchier laevis 'Snowflakes', a large shrub or small tree - perfect for heralding in spring. Large, white star-shaped flowers cover the branches, contrasting handsomely with the emerging coppery young foliage.

Gusts of spring winds create a snowstorm of petals around this plant.

 

More than spring interest

Autumn colour on amelanchierAs with most amelanchiers, this one doesn’t limit its interest to the spring. Creating a lovely dappled shade of green leaves in the summer, small edible red berries ripen before being devoured by birds. This all precedes a lively show in autumn with foliage that turns vibrant shades of orange and red. A good choice for a small garden, this cultivar reaches a maximum height of 4m (13ft) in 20 years and can be kept smaller with careful pruning.

 

Growing amelanchiers

Ours at Hyde Hall is planted as part of the extension of the Modern Rose Garden in the Hilltop Garden. It is grown on a single stem as a small tree - but amelanchiers can be allowed to develop multiple stems and be grown as rounded shrubs. They don’t require any pruning beyond removing crossing stems to help improve their shape in winter or late spring. Amelanchiers are tolerant of a wide range of soil types as long as they aren’t too dry, and will even grow well in heavy and damp soils. This amelanchier is happy in sun or partial shade, but will give the best autumn colour in a sunny location.

 

Planting Partners

Because of the dappled shade it casts, there are plenty of choices of shade-loving plants to grow underneath, including Pulmonaria longifolia 'Bertram Anderson' or hostas and ferns – but you could also allow a clematis such as Clematis 'Comtesse de Bouchaud' to scramble through its branches for additional summer blooms.
 

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