Every time my serviceberry (a.k.a shadbush, a.k.a Amelanchier × ‘Autumn Brilliance’) comes into bloom I wonder why it isn’t a more commonly planted tree. Why did everyone plant those dreadful Bradford pears instead? Is it because serviceberry grows slowly? (That would be a point in its favor if instant gratification weren’t so highly valued by landscrapers and non-gardeners.) Is it because it’s a native and native used to equal boring? (I’m so glad it doesn’t anymore. Don’t we all like to feel at home in our gardens and connected to nature’s cycles?) Is it because its racemes of small creamy-white flowers, blushed with the barest touch of pink in bud, make such a delicate cloud compared to the razzmatazz of bazooka pink cherries, and are gone again too quickly? (True, they shatter within a couple of weeks but not before the bees have had their fill.) Is it because the tasty little berries that follow are gone—stolen by every neighborhood robin—almost before they ripen in July?
Or is it because the damn tree is so susceptible to cedar apple rust? By mid summer the foliage and fruit on mine develops a dusty orange glow and cankerous thickenings along some of its twigs. Uncool. But at least the scourge is only disfiguring, not fatal, and doesn’t seem to put off the marauding birds. Some springs, right around now after a rainstorm, I have spotted the source—bright orange, disgusting, globular fungi on the branches of my backyard junipers and lopped them off before they had a chance to blow spores all over the neighborhood. I like to think my vigilance has helped because I adore my serviceberry and want everyone who sees it to desperately want to plant one too.
What’s your favorite spring-blooming tree?