It’s hard to understand why some gardeners have an aversion to crab apples when these compact, ornamental trees give us masses of spring blossoms followed by colourful fruits then a tapestry of autumn foliage that would make a beautiful statement in any garden.
In spring the emerging new leaves are hidden by clouds of fragrant pink, red or white flowers, then later in the season the fruit appears in various colours of orange, yellow and red, and dangle like ornaments from the branches. Some varieties will hold their fruit into winter, brightening cold, dreary days.
Many crab apples have leaves that take on beautiful colours in autumn, and when the leaves fall the interesting branch patterns take centre stage.
Crab apples are tough little trees that are quite adaptable to various situations.
They love full sun and can withstand the coldest frosts as well as the warmer coastal regions, and they come in a vast range of sizes and shapes.
In form they come in weeping, round, oval upright and horizontal and they range in size from 1.5 metre shrubs to quite large trees reaching up to 10 metre in height.
Some compact varieties are used in bonsai culture.
Give some careful though, before purchasing a crab apple tree for your garden as its important to consider size and form.
The larger, rounded tree, when grown alone makes a wonderful specimen planting, or for a dramatic effect, plant a group as a copse.
Small varieties are perfect for containers. Weepers add a special touch to an informal garden and the multi-stemmed crabs have their place in the shrub bed. Crab apples also make stunning hedges.
Flower colours range from pure white through pink, red and combinations of all.
The colours can also change as they age, red blooms often fade to lighter shades until finally white.
The most popular of these ornamental trees are Malus ioensis ‘Plena’ with its double soft pink flowers and small green fruits; Malus ‘Golden Hornet’ with deep pink buds that open white and dramatic yellow fruits and Malus ioensis ‘Purpurea’ which has red buds that open to single red to pink flowers, small, decorative brown fruits and green foliage with a slightly bronze shading.
The most common grievance about crab apples is that they tend to drop their fruit and this can be a problem underfoot if they fall onto pathways. Just be prepared to rake up fallen fruits.
The crab apple really is the complete package for any garden with loads of beautiful blossoms, fruit and stunning autumn foliage.
March 21: The Australian Plant Society meets at the Max Fry Hall on Gorge Rd, Trevallyn at 7.30pm. Guest speaker is Phillipa McCormack who will discuss “Environmental law and threatened species in an era of climate adaptation”. Visitors are welcome to attend to gain expert advice on gardening with native plants from the friendly members over a cup of tea or coffee. Information on the APST can be obtained from its website at www.apstasnorth.org
March 26: ‘WestFest’ at the Exeter High School Farm, Main Road, Exeter from 10am-3pm.
Family fun day with refreshments, live music, wine and olive oil tasting, local crafters, free activities for the children. See alpacas shorn. Sled dogs in Sport will feature. Entry $5, 6-12yrs $2.
April 19: The Launceston Horticultural Society meets at the Windmill Hill Hall, High Street, Launceston at 8pm.
April 20: The Launceston Orchid Society meets at the Newnham Uniting Church Hall, George Town Road, Launceston at 7pm.