Wednesday, March 25, 2009

in bloom this week

Remember that late winter shot of Cornus mas that I took at the beginning of this month? Well, check it out this week.
Cornus mas, a fabulous and easy flowering shrub, is commonly called a Corneliancherry dogwood, or just Cornelian cherry. I say shrub because that is usually how you find it throughout public parks and gardens, but able to get to 25' tall and easily 15' wide many arborists and hoticulturists might consider it more a small tree. Either way it is a relatively trouble-free woody plant that really adds to the spring landscape. With opposite branching and a medium rate of growth Cornus mas will require some pruning throughout it's lifetime, but otherwise I find it to be pretty self sufficient. Yet funny enough you do not see it in the trade very often and I am not sure why that is. A friend the other day found one at Home Depot in a 3 gallon container for $150 which we quickly concluded was a little excessive, but it is a great plant. The rest of the year people might not necessarily be instantly drawn to this small tree because the foliage and exfoliating bark, though nice, are not the most exceptional. The fact that it is one of the earlier shrubs/trees to bloom in spring however always turns a lot of heads and peaks peoples curiosity.
The flower clusters are still a little tight, but they are certainly on their way.

When in full bloom you can imagine how wow a mature and well pruned Cornus mas can be, urban or rural.
I had to shoot a few more pics of the little Iris around. I am pretty positive you are looking at a cultivars of Iris reticulata. A hardy little bulb in zones 5-9 these guys come up very early but only to about 6" or so. Some web users claim that with ample mulch these miniature iris, like the danfordiae below, can survive as cold as zone 3, but I honestly wouldn't know.

The yellow guy here is Iris danfordiae. Also not much taller than 4-6", you can understand why it is commonly called dwarf yellow iris. The bright canary yellow is really sensational to come across in the garden. Supposedly the bulblets form slowly, but they do establish themselves well in the landscape over time.
Other minor bulbs have popped up here and there in warm and sunny tucked away little places. Microclimates we call them. I already mentioned the Scilla that have begun to appear under the protected magnolias coming into flower. Here with its blue petals and bright white eye is a kind of Chionodoxa species, perhaps Chionodoxa forbesii. These small bulbs in the hyacinth family (Hyacinthaceae) are called "glory of the snow" because in their native mountainous habitats throughout Crete, Cyprus and western Turkey they emerge after the last of the snow has melted. Here in the States we consider them more of an early spring bulb. Chionodoxa is another that we classify as a minor bulb because it's ultimate height rarely exceeds 8".
And yes, the first daffodil of the season, of course botanically known as Narcissus. With 16 different divisions describing a slew of morphological variation and who knows how many bizillion cultivars in each division I am not even going to get into these guys. All you really need to know is that they are in fact an introduced species even though they naturalize well in the North American landscape, and they are poisonous so therefore well suited for gardens bothered by squirrels or deer. Some might say daffodils are boring, but those narrow-minded people have probably never really spilled over catalogs to see exactly how many options you can find among these true bulbs in the Amaryllis family (Amayllidaceae). Not to mention that once they arrive in spring you know that the rest of our spring flower fest is soon, soon behind.

enjoy. I'm dashing to dinner. Happy Spring, -a

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