I am going to start out by admitting that I have never been impressed with serviceberry. The first serviceberry or shadblow (Amelanchier spp.) that I encountered was in Pennsylvania in 1996. I was told that it was an impressive, native tree that was being promoted as a replacement for the over-used Bradford pear. When it flowered, well, um, I actually forgot ever seeing it in flower. It was so underwhelming. Since that time, I have seen other serviceberry trees and written them off because of short flowering time or early leaf drop in the summer.
My view has changed this spring in Maine. I am not sure whether it is Maine’s climate or the particular selections we have at CMBG but the flowering this year has been outstanding. Planted along our education center are Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Cole’s Select.’ They started flowering a couple of weeks ago and are still going strong. The form is somewhat upright and the trees are around 20′ in height, making for a remarkable display of white flowers this May. Amelanchier x grandiflora is a naturally occuring hybrid between the two east coast US native species: A. arborea and A. laevis. The result is a small, upright, native, spring flowering, edible fruit producing, and brilliant fall colored tree. Our cultivar, ‘Cole’s Select’ has dark green leaves that turn a brilliant reddish-orange in the fall. The form is perfect for the small landscape, it reminds me of a small crepemyrtle or upright Japanese maple.
There are other cultivars of Amelanchier x grandiflora available including ‘Autumn Brilliance,’ ‘Princess Diana,’ ‘Robin Hill,’ and ‘Cumulus.’ We have ‘Autumn Brilliance’ and ‘Robin Hill’ planted in the gardens here in Boothbay and I would definitely like to add some more in the future based upon the performance this spring of ‘Cole’s Select.’
Do you have serviceberry planted in your garden? How is it growing for you?
Photos: Rodney Eason
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