The flowering peach, Prunus persica, was thought to have originated in Persia, hence its species name ‘persica’. However, it has long been the subject of Chinese poetry, art and tradition, and may well have been brought into cultivation in China over 3,000 years ago. Don looked at the winter flowering group of peach trees, which add colour and cheerfulness when the rest of the garden looks drab and bare.
Common name: Winter peach
Botanic name: Prunus persica
Best climate: Many areas of Australia, including Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and the lower Mountains.
Beautiful flower display during winter, when the rest of the garden is bare. Excellent small tree for the home garden.
Fruit from the species is very tasty, but the flowering cultivars produce small hard fruit that are not worth eating. They may however attract fruit fly. Trees may be subject to some fungal diseases that attack peaches and nectarines. Your local nursery may not stock winter flowering peaches.
Plant peach trees in a full sun position. They like moist, well-drained soil, and need protection from strong winds, which damage the flower crop.
Prune after flowering in winter to remove any small fruits.
In late winter as the buds begin to swell but before they show colour, spray for Peach Leaf Curl with copper oxychloride (don’t spray trees in flower). Peach leaf curl is a fungal disease. It may be seen as a thickening and distortion of peach and nectarine leaves in spring and late summer.
Our segment was filmed at ‘Fernbrook’, 2 Queen Street, Kurrajong Heights, NSW (about 90 minutes from Sydney in the Lower Blue Mountains). Fernbrook Garden and Gallery is open to the public every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Phone: (02) 4567 7330
While the early flowering winter peaches may be hard to find, spring flowering peaches are more readily available. If you have any problems, ask your nursery to order plants for purchase next winter. Expect to pay around $25-$30 for a 250mm (10″) pot.
‘The Garden Plants of China’ by Peter Valder. Published by Florilegium, 1999, ISBN 1876314028, rrp $88.