This time of year the weather flits between winter and spring temperatures. Gardeners delight as a warmer, sunny day opens crocus and snowdrop flowers, encourages the bloom of hellebores, and swells the buds of cherry trees. During these days of varying temperatures, a real traffic stopper at the Scott Arboretum is the early spring blooming of Cornus mas.
A portion of the Arboretum is visible along Route 320/Chester Road. You will often see drivers slowing down to admire the profusion of yellow blooms coating the Cornus mas. The office will receive calls from inquiring minds about what is blooming along Chester Road.
Cornus mas is often mistaken for a cherry tree, especially because of its common name Cornelian cherry. As apparent to those familiar with Latin names, it is actually in the dogwood family. C. mas can be grown as a large multi-stemmed shrub or as a small oval-shaped tree. Valued for its early spring show of yellow flowers, C. mas also produces small cherry-red oblong drupes in the summer. These drupes are often hidden by foliage but are a good source of food for birds. If you manage to beat the birds to the fruit, they can be used in preserves and syrups.
Several cultivars are available in the trade for your gardens. The most popular is C. mas ‘Golden Glory’. ‘Golden Glory’ is said to be the heaviest and best flowering selection and has won the distinction of being named a Gold Medal Plant. The Scott Arboretum planted this cultivar around Kemp Hall because it is a more upright selection of Cornus mas.
Currently putting on the greatest show of color is C. mas ‘Spring Glow’ by Bond Memorial Hall. This cultivar was selected because it has a low chilling requirement making it more suitable for southern gardens. This may explain why it is in full bloom while the other Cornelian cherries are just beginning to open.
Stop by on a sunny, spring day to see all the early blooming plants at the Scott Arboretum.