Prunus consists of over 200 species and innumerable cultivars and includes both cherries and plums. They are all either trees or shrubs. Many are grown for their fruit: cherries, plums, almonds, apricots, peaches and so on. Most of the others are purely ornamental and are grown mainly for their spring blossom. Many have a good, if fleeting, autumn colour, and others have very attractive winter bark.
Some gardeners feel that many of the flowering cherries are dull for the rest of the year when their blossom has gone. Undoubtedly some are rather uninteresting and are best grown where there are plenty of other plants, rather than in a small garden where every plant counts.
However, there are others that produce a well-shaped tree, which along with the autumn colour do earn there place, so careful choice is important. These include a selection of the delightful Japanese flowering cherries. The flowers appear in early spring, sometimes just a little too early and are caught by late frosts.
Some are single and others very frilly doubles. The colours are in either white or pink. Most are deciduous but a few are evergreen and some, Prunus lusitanica in particular, make good hedging plants.
Cherries are easy to grow in most soils as long as they are not too dry. Plenty of humus in the soil helps. Little pruning is necessary for most of the ornamental varieties.