Designer Richard Hartlage once recommended weekly nursery visits as the best way to make sure you have something happening in your garden year-round. Need an excuse to hang at nurseries? There you have it...but the efficacy of this strategy depends not only on an abundance of time, but also on how good the nurseries are where you live (we're lucky in Seattle & environs). And nursery plants may well be forced into early bloom, so no telling just when they'll flower in future years...
Now I hope this isn't yet another sign of blogdom substituting for print on paper, but do you remember that my column in Pacific Northwest magazine always used to include a "Now In Bloom" feature? It featured a plant at its peak moment- tree, perennial, annual, bulb, a very selective look at what was at its best. I loved writing it, but I'm sorry to say that "Now In Bloom" went the way of the artist who drew it....but I still get email from readers who want it resurrected.
So here, officially, "Now In Bloom" hops from newsprint to cyberspace. I plan to start every week with a special plant - even if you are lucky enough to cruise nurseries often, maybe this highly selective feature (just one plant a week!!!) will help you sort through all the beguiling possibilities. I hope it'll tune you in to the seasonality of your garden, introduce you, perhaps, to some new plants, and help with those tough edits that make for the best gardens. So here we go:
Tolerant of a wide variety of soils, this small, sturdy tree fits easily into most urban or suburban gardens. You can see it growing as a specimen on the north side of Greenlake, or in a gridded grove in front of the Center for Urban Horticulture. In early autumn, Cornelian cherries sport edible red fruit used in jams and jellies; a little later in the season, its foliage turns a deep reddish-purple.
You can grow Cornus mas in sun or part shade, it's drought tolerant once established, and grows ten feet high and wide. This is a practical little tree, well worth growing it for its surprising burst of yellow long before most trees even bud up.