There's so much more to a great yard than just mowing the lawn.

Spring Snow, Water and a Small Flowering Tree

The storm arrived as predicted. It’s not supposed to get super cold tonight, but the forecast is saying we’ll get up to a foot of snow. Yikes!

Branch in Spring StormWith so much snow a real possibility, you might want to read a post I wrote on protecting trees and shrubs during heavy spring snow storms. Spring snow contains a lot of moisture, which makes it very heavy. The weight of the snow can snap branches like matchsticks, even though the same trees and shrubs don’t have problems during winter storms. So, get your parka on and knock the snow off the branches of any vulnerable plants.

The Silver Lining

The upside of spring snow storms is the water. When the soil has plenty of moisture in spring, our landscape plants thrive for the rest of the growing season. What better way to get moisture into winter-dehydrated soil than to cover it with a foot of snow and let it slowly soak in as it melts. In comparison, so much of the water we get during rainstorms runs off the soil surface, so it doesn’t actually water our plants.

Princess Kay Plum

When I hear that a storm is approaching, I try to take pictures of the plants in full bloom. It’s my way of capturing their beauty before they fade into limp, soggy remnants.

One tree I’ve been particularly impressed with recently is Princess Kay plum (Prunus nigra ‘Princess Kay’). If you’re looking for a beautiful small tree to serve as a focal point in your yard, Princess Kay plum should definitely be on your short list. It is absolutely gorgeous.

20160415_141327.jpgIn spring it produces double light pink flowers that cover the branches. Since the bark is a dark color, it contrasts beautifully with the blossoms. It’s one of those trees that will cause you to stop and look when it’s in flower.

After the flowers fade, the pretty green leaves emerge for the summer.

Once fall arrives, its leaves develop stunning fall color. They become shades of purple, red, orange and yellow in September and October. If you’d like to see the fall color, visit Plant Select.

Princess Kay Plum FlowersEven better, it’s a small tree. It grows about 10 to 20 feet tall and wide. I’m always on the lookout for excellent-performing trees that suit the reduced size of newer yards. It’s not large enough to serve as a shade tree, but can make a great focal point.

Will it grow well here? You bet. Princess Kay plum grows well in Colorado’s Front Range over the long term. The Plant Select program surveys horticulturists on the performance of their recommended plants each year. Princess Kay plum is one of the highest rated plants every year. That’s a great endorsement.

So, let’s enjoy what might be the last snow of the spring, celebrate the moisture, protect our trees. It’s supposed to be 80 degrees next week!


2 Responses to Spring Snow, Water and a Small Flowering Tree

  1. Gary Halpin April 16, 2016 at 1:39 pm #

    Hi Catherine,
    I’ve heard of some pellets or something you can put near the root of trees that will hold moisture, but don’t know what it is or where I can purchase it (and whether it works and it’s worth it)

    • Catherine April 16, 2016 at 8:56 pm #

      Hi Gary, you might be thinking of “water absorbing polymer crystals.” If that’s correct, then generally they’re not really worth the expense. Here’s an article from Colorado State University with a good explanation. Personally, I don’t bother using them and I’ve got a lot of free samples over the years. I don’t think they work that well. Compost and mulch- in the right situation- are better options.

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