In Praise of the Cherry Plum

Maddy Harland
Tuesday, 29th March 2011

Prunus myrobalan is a good permaculture tree. A robust edible, happy in a fruiting hedge, it can be a windbreak, boundary marker and wildlife habitat as well as an ornamental. Truly multifunctional.

One of my favourite trees in our garden is the Plum Myrobalan, Prunus cerasifera . It is robust enough to be used as a hedge plant but if you let it grow as a standard within a hedgerow, it will grow to 25 feet in 20 years. In March, its branches are alive with honeybees enjoying the nectar from the abundant pure white flowers. It is the first tree to blossom in the garden. I stand beneath it and savour the delicious scent and celebrate the hum of happy honey bees, too rare an experience even in my garden which has about 80 fruit and nut trees.

In the autumn our Prunus Myrobalan fruits tasty reddy yellow cherry plums. They are not as sweet as a Victoria plums and are smaller but they good for jams and chutneys but I also eat them off the tree. Judging by this year's blossom we should get a good crop.

This is a very unfussy tree, being semi-wild. We don't bother to prune it, all we do is pick the fruit. You can spot it in hedgerows and it is also grown as a garden ornamental. Permaculturists appreciate its robust habit as an edible. It is of real value in a fruiting hedge, adding a multi-functional dimension – windbreaks, boundaries and habitat – as well as food.

And my heart leaps when the blossom comes out after the winter. Spring has sprung and the sap is well and truly rising.