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Amelanchier - Growing Guide
Snowy Mespilus, June berry
These are large shrubs and small trees from North America which complement and support the amazing displays of flowering cherries and earn a place in the more difficult and boring parts of the woodland garden or as backing for the herbaceous border because of their flowers and fruits as well as their autumn colours. Tough as old boots, prunable, but also pretty indestructible. In The Valley Gardens at Windsor Great Park great swathes of Amelanchier lamarkii have been planted on hillsides to give a colourful start to early May and a grand finale of colour in October with plenty of fruits for birds to enjoy.
One of the best flowering forms is A. ‘Ballerina’ which is a form of A. laevis. It grows up to 20ft with white flowers in arching racemes 6in long. It has bronze tinted new growth and sweet, edible juicy fruit which ripens to purplish black.
A. x grandiflora ‘Robin Hill’ is also a popular variety as it has a more compact upright habit although it may grow slightly taller to 25ft or so. Its flower buds are pink opening pale pink and fading to white. The fruits are blue-black.
A. laevis, the Alleghany serviceberry, is a small tree or large shrub which has a striking display of fragrant white flowers interspersed with delicate pink young foliage in early May. It too grows to around 20-25ft tall in maturity and has sweet blue-black fruit and orange-red autumn colours.
A. lamarkii (which is often confused with A. laevis) is the tallest growing species with a spreading habit and has naturalised widely in Europe. It has an upright habit and white haired young shoots preceding bronze young leaves. The flowers emerge as the young leaves unfold. The fruits are black and juicy and the strong reddish autumn colours show up well from a distance.
Amelanchier can be hard pruned if they get out of control in the space allocated to them with no ill effect. This is best undertaken in late autumn. The seeds can be sown as soon as ripe once they are removed from the fruit unless you prefer to cook and eat them. Greenwood or semi-ripe cuttings will root easily in the summer.