It's March and you wake up to one of those first, invigorating spring days. Something should be blooming, you think, but around you most plants are still dormant. Enter the Japanese Cornel Dogwood, or Cornus officionalis, cheerfully obliging with an explosion of sulfur-yellow flowers! The individual flowers might be small, but the profusion makes a sensational floral display. The attractive, light-brown bark exfoliates to reveal orange-colored plates beneath. Japanese Cornel is Dogwood Borer-resistant, disease-resistant, and takes less-than-ideal soils in stride. A native of China, Japan, and Korea, this tree is also extremely rare, having been passed over far too often by gardeners and landscape professionals.
The floral display in late winter/early spring is best accented by an evergreen background so situate this tree accordingly. Evergreens will provide a perfect backdrop for the showy bark and for the structure in mid-winter as well. If planted in full sun, the leaves will curl upward, partially exposing the lighter-colored undersurface - a plus or a minus depending on your tastes. If you want the season-long freshness of the rich foliage and maximum flower production, plant in partial shade. Fall color can be attractive but is usually not overwhelming. Japanese Cornel grows to 15'-25' tall with an equal spread.
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