I’ve learned a lot this week. The bad news is that my Nanking Cherries are DEAD, all of them… They looked so good with beautiful buds but there is no life above the soil. It’s all brown inside. I’m so disappointed. They are supposed to be very winter-hardy, but we had a very wet fall and an on-again/off-again winter. I think the Nanking Cherries just could not cope with all the changes. They like to go dormant in the fall and wake up in Spring. I think they never got to sleep or were awakened in one of the mild spells during the winter.
That was the bad news. The not so bad news is more plentiful. My oaks which I set out too early lost most of their leaves but the stems are still alive and they are growing new buds. Further, I found my Prunus avium seedlings were thriving once the cold spells and high winds subsided. Even the chokecherries lost their leaves but the Prunus avium were in a cold frame with more protection and survived unscathed. I transplanted them to larger pots this morning and the mass of root is larger than the tops. The good times are going to roll if they survive their first winter…
Then, there is positively great news. I noticed near an apple that had been eaten to the ground by mice that a small tree was growing. It looked like a cherry… It turns out that it’s a “sucker” from an Evans cherry which survived a near death-by-rodent experience last year and is now thriving. Further examination of the neighbourhood reveals that there was a sucker last year near a cherry that has died. So, I lost one cherry and gained two more. Perhaps I can keep ahead of the rodents. To top it off, I managed to pick a raised bed of rhubarb clean of weeds. Pretty soon the rhubarb will be mature enough to drown the weeds in shade. It’s all good news from here on, baby.
PS – Upon reflection and study, I feel another trial of Nanking Cherry is worthwhile. The City of Winnipeg has dozens in their database of tree inventory. Perhaps another source of seed or seedlings will do. Perhaps waiting for year 2 to plant them out would help. Perhaps more protection the first winter would help.
Prunus avium is more problematic. They are grown in Manitoba but mostly in sheltered spots, unlike my yard. Perhaps I can grow them in containers and move them out of the wind for winter.
The Evans sour cherry looks like a great option. Obviously, it’s hardy enough for my yard even with rodents. It’s not patented so I can propagate from seed or cuttings as I wish. The other sour cherry may produce seed but there’s no guarantee of the qualities of seedlings but it is another source of cherry-DNA.
I’m going to deploy chicken-wire around my existing cherries to avoid future setbacks.