Nanking cherry (Prunus tomentosa)

Whew! What a spring we are having! Here we are in early May, and most trees and shrubs haven’t leafed out yet. In fact, many of them lost their first set of leaves to repeated late hard freezes in April and they’re working on putting out a second set – a feat that requires a tremendous amount of energy on the plant’s part.

Early flowering fruit trees and shrubs also lost most of their flowers to those same hard freezes, but a few are putting out at least a few blooms. And lucky for us, a couple of the volunteer Nanking cherries (Prunus tomentosa) in the park are in this crowd. These are the shrubs that I have referred to as my “mystery prunus” shrubs over the past few years because I was not sure what they were. But last year, I received confirmation that they were in fact nanking cherries from Larry Vickerman, Director of Chatfield Gardens (part of Denver Botanic Gardens), and that was good enough for me! These shrubs most certainly are volunteers that were planted by birds as they passed through the park.

Last year, these started blooming on March 26 (which was a bit early). This year, I saw these first flowers last week on May 2 – the morning after a snowy May 1. The park was absolutely gorgeous covered in wet, heavy, much-needed snow. Here’s a little slideshow for you:


Snowy Monument Creek


Lilacs in Monument Valley Park covered with snow


Northern Monument Valley Park with spring snow


Chokecherry flower buds covered in spring snow


Northern Monument Valley Park with spring snow