North Carolina State University has long had a commercial peach breeding program, but every now and then, a seedling emerges that may not have store quality fruit, but has instead good ornamental traits. Two of my favorites from their program are below. The first is Prunus persica ‘NCSU Dwarf Double Red’. I first saw this amazing plant when I was in school there in the 1970s. Maturing around 10′ tall x 12′ wide, it looks like a giant azalea on steroids when it bursts into flower in mid-March (NC). Interestingly, it comes completely true from seed.

The second ornamental from the program are the Corinthian Peaches, introduced by Dr. Dennis Werner in 2001. These fascinating creations form a tight column, also flowering in mid-March (NC). In our trials, these also come rather true from seed as well. While both produce edible peaches, they aren’t the size or quality one would typically expect. There are five cultivars (colors) in the series. What they don’t possess in edibility, they more than make up for in beauty and form for the early spring garden.

Prunus persica ‘NCSU Dwarf Double Red’
Prunus persica ‘Corinthian White’

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