Thomas Jefferson lists a "dble blossed almond" in his 1794 "Objects for the garden this year."1 Working in the nursery from March 17-19 of that same year, he writes, "grafted double blossomed almonds."2 It is uncertain where he got this plant, or if he brought it back from Europe. (A package of almonds is mentioned in the 1790 Grevin packing list, but no description is provided.3)
This flowering shrub is native to central and northern China and was long cultivated in Japan before its introduction to the West. This variety was introduced in 1683 and Prince Nursery, of Long Island, New York, first offered it in 1790.4 In The American Gardener's Calendar (1806), Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon recommended forcing the shrub into flower by bringing it into the hot-house in February.5 Double-flowering shrubs were particularly popular in later Victorian and Edwardian gardens.
Dwarf flowering almond is a hardy, deciduous, spring-flowering shrub with bowl-shaped, double, pale pink flowers borne in dense clusters along the branches, followed by dark red fruit.