My New BFF in the Garden… Maybe.

On Sunday, I knew the forecast for today must be favorable when mister gardener announced his plans for golfing.  As he backed from the driveway this morning, I waved a quick goodbye from the front door and exited the back door before he was out of sight. The sun was shinning, the sky was blue, and the air was warm. All I needed was a light sweatshirt in this 63 degree weather. I looked forward to a full day in the garden without interruptions or breaks. I rolled up my sleeves and checked the list I jotted the night before.

Gloves? Check. Shovels? Check. Pitchfork? Check. Hose? Check. Clippers? Camera? Check. The first project on my list was the transplanting of a dogwood. This was not any common dogwood, but a Cornus officinalis, a Japanese cornel dogwood.  Three years ago, my Ohio son gave me a sapling that sprouted beneath his glorious 35-foot Japanese cornel dogwood.  I planted the foot tall baby in my plant nursery and protected it through several seasons until today. It’s time for this tree to become a specimen.

The Cornus officinalis is lesser know than its close relative, Cornus mas, the cornelian cherry dogwood.  They both sport delicious large yellow early blooms before the leaves appear, around the time the forsythia blooms. I’ve been told that it is very difficult to tell the two species apart unless species nearby one another can be compared. The Japanese variety has larger flowers and blooms earlier than the cornelian.

Japanese cornel dogwood exfoliating bark

The bark of the tree is showy and exfoliates in small curls, even on my tiny four-foot Japanese variety.  It produces bright red oblong drupes in the summer, edible but tart.  With the wonderful bark, blooms, berries and easy care, what more could you want?

Late in the day, mister gardener dragged in the front door, very sunburned and tired, as I dragged in the back door, very dirty and exhausted.  We each professed to having optimal adventures as we collapsed in pure contentment at the end of our extremely long day.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

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