We inherited the plum tree with the house so we never had any idea of what kind of plum tree it was. It grew quickly and became a very special tree. To begin with, it is the first plum tree to flower in the neighbourhood and I think it is admired by all as a sign of spring. We can have lunch under its branches in the summer when it is so hot that parasols cannot protect you from the heat of the sun’s rays. The branches are sturdy enough to support a swing and they give just enough shade for the colony of Ashy mining bees (Andrena cineraria) that lives in the grass close to its trunk. We do not get plums every year because in the colder years the flowers or newly formed fruit get frozen. We have had years that the grass has been carpeted with fallen plums and I can gorge on the little yellow fruits as I collect them and pass them on to friends. Those are the years of plentiful plum jam and compote.
This year it has not disappointed us and on the 12 February I captured the first flower to open. I was not the only person to be watching their plum tree, reading the blog of Vincent Albouy I have discovered the name of the plum tree that I had always referred to as my wild plum tree. So now I have a host of names to chose from. It is a Prunus cerasfera and has the common names of cherry or myrobolan plum.
By the 20 February many more flowers were open. The leaves only appear once the flowers finish blooming. There are cultivated varieties of this plum that have dark leaves and are grown more for their ornamental value than for the fruit.
It was only 8 degrees centigrade in the garden on the 20 February and we were amazed to see the bees and bumble bees on the flowers in the February sunshine. Have a look at this short video to see what it looks like.
The plum pollen is a dark yellow/orange and it is easy to spot the bees bringing it into the hive.
Here is another short video of the bees bringing the pollen back to their hives at 3.47 p.m.
One advantage of the cherry plum tree is that it grows well from seed and a few years ago we found a sapling growing in the border not far from the big plum tree. We hoped we were planting the right tree and we transplanted it to a better position at the bottom of the garden closer to the bee hives. It has flowered for the first time this year, reassuring us that we have now got a second cherry plum tree in the garden. It is now about the same size as the big tree was when we bought the house. The bees will be grateful that the new plum tree is even closer to their hives on cold February days.