I Remember when I was going college I walked every day to get the the bus. I used this time to learn the 300 or so plants which were required for me to pass the program. Fortunately in the few blocks to the bus stop there were many plants on the list. As the seasons progressed I saw the changes that occurred with each of the plants I studied from fall, through winter and into spring. I would never have noticed the bushy shrub-like tree which I stood in front of every morning until it burst into bloom at this time of the year. To my delight it was a Cornus mas or Cornelian Cherry Dogwood which produced a spectacular golden display before most other plants are in bloom. I never saw another one until….
This tree is in the Doris Page Winter Garden at Glendale Gardens
I regularly visit the Glendale Gardens and found several in bloom, WOW is all I can say. This year since I knew I would write about Cornus mas I have been on the hunt for others and have struck several golde(en) bonanzas. I looked in the usual places and was not disappointed, two at Government House and two at Finnerty Gardens.
The real surprise was on the way to Government House driving along Fairfield Road. I saw an incredible huge example at the corner of Trutch Street. and Fairfield Road. I am so glad to find a Cornus mas that is on a street side instead of of a park or fancy garden. This is a highly traveled site that anyone can go by and enjoy the beauty of this tree.
This wonderful plant comes from central and southern Europe and also is found in Western Asia where its large ‘cherry-like’ fruit is used for making jams and sauces. In Armenia the fruit is added to Vodka to flavor it. The deep red ripe fruit is an oblong drupe which is up to 3/4in. long by 1/2in wide and contains a large stone. Several Cornelian Cherry Dogwood cultivars have been selected with unusually large fruit for commercial production.
The best thing about Cornus mas is that it is easy to grow and will fit into many planting schemes. It works well as a specimen or in a winter garden, in a natural or woodland setting. As it has a small stature of no more than 25ft by 15ft it will fit well into many small urban gardens. It also looks good in small feature groups or in a mixed shrub border where its bright flowers will standout from the dark background.
It is the least fussy of the large Cornus (Dogwood trees) and will tolerate any soil from dry to quite wet. It grows best in full sun to part shade which is especially needed in hot drier climates as the leaves are thin and loose moisture easily. Cornus mas plants take pruning very well and is often shaped into a several stemmed small tree which helps to show off the attractive flaking bark.
There have been several well known forms of Cornelian Cherry Dogwoods which may be available in your area. ‘Aurea’ with golden leaves, ‘Variegata’ which is edged in cream and ‘Elegantissim’ with pink or golden highlights are some of the foliage forms. There are also golden and white fruited forms known. On top of these there are pyrimidal, dwarf and extremely cold hardy (‘Ukraine’ tolerates -30f.) selections available. Zones 5 through 8.
Links of the Week:
To learn more about Cornus mas go here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/howtogrow/3308195/How-to-grow-Cornus-mas.html
Until we meet again on Wednesday for a new clue and the start of a new story.