Mirabelle or cherry plum....

The earliest blossom in the Peterborough area is usually cherry plum Prunus cerasifera, which is the earliest plum to flower, in bloom a fortnight or so before blackthorn. The sweet heady scent, with just an overtone of bitter almonds, is one of the most characteristic and welcome smells of spring.

The petals are white (a purer white than blackthorn, which often has a creamy look when it first flowers) and the cherry plum has a rather different growth form, being generally much taller and more lax in structure, and often there are no thorns. The fruit of the cherry plum are small, round and either red or yellow, clearly different from the hard blue-black fruit of the blackthorn.

The mirabelle has very similar flowers and fruit, but is more closely related to the damson and bullace, being a sub-species of Prunus domestica. The main difference between the two seems to be the colour of the young twigs, which are green in the cherry-plum. Having looked more closely at our tree, I think it's a mirabelle. Certainly the yellow fruit, which are produced profusely in August, are very good in a crumble.

Today has been one of those days that has just evaporated without having achieved very much, except for filling in the online form to support Chris's student grant application for the next academic year. Unfortunately we discovered that the fox's tooth must have pierced the skin of the speckled hen, and she now has a nasty abscess. We've cleaned it out and applied antiseptic, but I suspect we might be visiting the vet tomorrow...she seemed to be doing so well.

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