There is no finer sight in spring than a blossom tree. Planting one is, to my mind, a public service, as it will cheer generations of people plodding down your street, both with the blooms that appear on its branches, and with the confetti of petals thrown along the pavement. In the next few weeks, the streets are going to become incredibly well-dressed with blossom, and here are five to look out for in particular:
Mimosa, Acacia dealbata
This is already out in London, and my goodness, you can’t miss it. It is the most vivid lemon yellow collection of little pompoms you can imagine, bursting out of beautiful ferny foliage. Even if your eyes are glued so firmly to your phone as you walk that you’re not bothering to look around you, the mimosa is busy making sure you cannot possibly ignore it. Its scent is so powerful that it’s like walking through a pair of thick curtains. Mimosa is particularly special because it only really survives in sheltered places like the capital. It will also make the cocktail with the same name seem very dull by comparison.
Prunus Wild cherry blossom, Prunus cerasifera, is already in bloom and has a starry beauty. But the opulent bright pink, double, cultivated stuff comes in a few weeks’ time, and that’s when some streets really do become truly magical. Look out for cultivars like ‘Kanzan’, which has rich, double-flowered pink blooms and can get wonderfully big.
You just can’t beat a magnolia, with its huge wine goblet-shaped flowers. Some streets of London have dozens of them in front gardens and it becomes quite difficult to walk at a normal pace along them because these trees are just so good. Their petals are thick and waxy – and the fascinating reason for this is that magnolias evolved before bees were around, so had to develop flowers robust enough to withstand the clodhopping feet of pollinating beetles.