It's a given that a peach tree is high-maintenance. They need plenty of water, sunshine, proper pruning (usually in winter), and frequent spraying on a rigid schedule for optimum production. But, on the other hand, perhaps no other tree delivers as much in return for all that care. They are stunning in spring with a display of blossoms that only cherries can rival, the summer fruit, picked fresh, is unbelievably delicious. There is also the lovely golden foliage in autumn and handsome bark for winter interest. When all of these impressive assets are taken into account most gardeners feel it is worth the extra effort.

And there are numerous cultivars most of which are about fruit quality and local adaptability but there are some that are more about ornamental characteristics than fruiting. And one dramatic ornamental cultivar is a dwarf which may only grow 6 feet in height in as many years, qualifying it as a shrub more than a tree and making a peach available to pot-culture on a balcony as well as the garden. This brilliant new variety is called Bonfire peach, or Prunus persica 'Bonfire'. In addition to its size, what really makes it a standout is the fact that this peach is grown for its foliage. Bonfire features richly handsome, dark red leaves which hold their color throughout the growing season. But like any good ornamental peach, it also has beautiful bloom, in this case double pink flowers with maroon centers that smother the branches in late winter and early spring. Bonfire also produces fruit which are largely inedible but are nonetheless attractive and would be appreciated by wild-life. The red-purple leaves will turn an orangey-gold in autumn before dropping to reveal the frame-work of a perfectly miniaturized peach tree all winter.

This dramatic new cultivar deserves to be a focal-point in the garden, perfect for patio or courtyard and could even be grouped in a small, but lovely grove of miniature peaches. It requires full sun and a slightly acidic, free-draining soil. It may not require as much spraying as the fruiting peaches but will still require some spraying.

As of the present time, Bonfire peach is not to be found anywhere but the most connoisseur plant nurseries. but it is worth the trouble of tracking it down.

Bonfire peach


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