Cherry blossom
Cherry blossom

The cherries have started flowering!

Even though they’re not the most exciting looking flowers they cause great excitement and inspire cherry blossom festivals around the world, most notably in Japan.

They’re actually one of the last tree fruits to flower, coming in at around the same time as the apples and pears, and way after the apricots, peaches and plums.

But then they’re the first fruit we harvest. Cherries are kind of a miracle fruit, with a super-short growing season that makes them a terrific garden fruit tree.

Just a few short weeks after they’ve started flowering the flowers will fade away, leaving these innocuous looking little green lumps – the baby cherries.

A baby cherry peeking out from the leaves
A baby cherry peeking out from the leaves

Nothing much seems to happen for a while….until suddenly one day you’ll notice a flash of pink in the trees – an exciting day for a fruit grower!

Farmer Ant admiring his ripening cherries
Farmer Ant admiring his ripening cherries

Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately there’s a long list of things that can go wrong with cherries, both the trees and fruit:

  • The biggest challenge is protecting the precious fruit from birds – in most cases, netting is the only option;
  • Then there’s all the things that want to eat them (other than us), like earwigs and garden weevils;
  • They’re very vulnerable to weather events like rain and hail, as the fruit splits easily;
  • The trees hate having “wet feet”, so need a spot with good drainage;
  • They also need enough water, which in most cases means an irrigation system;
  • The fruit can be vulnerable to diseases like brown rot;
  • The trees are frequently attacked by aphids;
  • Cherry trees are prone to several fungal and bacterial diseases.

It’s a long list of potential disasters (and we’ve experienced all of them), but don’t worry – there’s also a bright side.

Cherries are delicious! They’re very high in nutrients and vitamins and are fantastically good for you, even reputedly curing gout (and a number of other ailments).

They tend to crop pretty reliably, are usually easy to pollinise, and – once the trees are established properly – are easy to prune and maintain a good shape.

They’re also synonymous with summer holidays, visits to “pick-your-own” farms and long warm days, and in Australia they’re also strongly associated with Christmas.

So despite their finicky nature it’s totally worth having a cherry tree in the garden, as they’re one of the most rewarding fruits to grow.

You’ll find a wealth of cherry-specific information to help you with your trees in the Cheeky Cherries short course, and you’ll be pleased to hear that most of the above-mentioned problems have a fairly simple solution.