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A plant for two seasons

            Crab apple Malus 'Red Sentinel' blossoms in May and fruits in Winter

Janet Queen

December

 ‘Red Sentinel’ crab apples usually remain on the tree throughout December and often last until the end of January. They are one of the most attractive winter decorations for the garden. Displayed in large clusters, they are small, bright red, glossy in the rain, sparkly in the frost.

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Malus ‘Red Sentinel’ has been given its well-deserved Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit for several reasons; it forms a compact tree that is ideal for urban or rural locations, it establishes readily and is easy to care for, and in late spring it is clothed in white blossom before fruits begin to become visible in early autumn. At first, the little apples are pale yellow and pink in colour, but as summer changes to autumn they turn to shades of crimson. It seems to be the case that blackbirds will readily feast on other varieties of crab apple before considering ‘Red Sentinel’ as a food source, but often they never take the apples from this tree.

Crab apple trees need a sunny site in the garden, preferably where there is some shelter from cold winds. They can survive in semi-shade but their blossom and fruit will never really reach full potential. For best results, choose a sunny corner. Soil should be well-drained and moist but not prone to water-logging because, like many other fruit trees, crab apples will not tolerate wet feet in.

 

Malus 'Red Sentinel' blossoms for May.

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