The corneliancherry dogwood (Cornus mas) trees are starting to bloom which is a sure sign of spring. They are blooming about a week earlier than usual but this isn’t the earliest I’ve seen them bloom either. In 2012, they were blooming in late February! The showy yellow flowers (seen in many photos here) create a yellow haze over the entire plant before the leaves begin to emerge. Native to Europe and Western Asia, this large shrub / small tree can get over 20′ tall in our climate and is a durable woody plant in the landscape with few insect and disease problems. The exfoliating bark becomes more interesting with age (see below) and while the primary interest is in the flowers, a variegated form of this species also has beautiful foliage (see below) from May until October. The fall color is not exceptional. Thriving in full sun or part sun, this plant can also be used for both formal and informal hedging (see bottom photo). The fruits that ripen to glossy red in late summer are edible (high in vitamin C) but quite astringent. The taste of the berry (actually a drupe) is described as a combination of cranberry and sour cherry. They can be sweetened up in jams and have long been used in various alcoholic concoctions. Historically the wood, which is very dense and hard, was used for primitive spears. We have six or so corneliancherry dogwoods near the Scottish garden and one variegated form in the Japanese garden. They are all certainly worth the space they inhabit!
Today was very productive with a good turnout for both garden work and inside projects at the Horticulture Center. New volunteer Steve E. headed out for some mulching while both Cindy B. and Larry H. had various projects and duties out in the gardens. Cindy continued tidying and applying deer/rodent repellent on our emerging bulbs. Larry H. continues to collect and store our deer netting and started to clean up our roses. Stan was in later to work in the Japanese garden and Kay did a nice job continuing to tidy her section of the shade garden after a quick project inside. Ruth Ann, Alan and Nancy N. all did a nice job painting in the Horticulture Center and Bobby K. was in as well. Peg continued the arduous task of updating our plant records to include all the memorial trees and we also saw Maryam, Terry, Mark S., Polly, Marcia L. and many others.
Cornus mas ‘Golden Glory’ hedge at Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI) – more upright
Cornus mas ‘Dripping Cherries’ (above and below) – colorful and plentiful fruits!
Cornus mas ‘Variegata’ (above and four below)
interesting bark with age
Cornus mas hedge at the Chicago Botanic Garden (imagine this in bloom!)