Most cherry lovers would agree it's hard to improve on a good 'Bing', but that's precisely what the breeders have done at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in Summerland, British Columbia. Breeders crossed 'Van' and 'Stella' cherries and came up with 'Lapins', a self-pollinating variety that produces large crops of delicious dark fruit that often measure almost 1 inch in width. The fruit resists splitting, and its texture is somewhat firmer than 'Bing'. 'Lapins' is a late-maturing cherry, with harvest time around late June and early July.
Growers have found 'Lapins' to be as hardy as 'Bing', down to -4°. On standard rootstock, this tree can reach 15 feet wide and 40 feet tall, but it should be pruned to keep it under 20 feet tall. If you want a smaller tree, look for one grafted on dwarf rootstock. Nurseries sell bare-root trees in early spring and in containers anytime. Also order from One Green World in Molala, Oregon (877/353-4028; www.onegreenworld.com) or Raintree Nursery in Morton, Washington (360/496-6400; www.raintreenursery.com).