Corn us mas

This dogwood, often called cornelian cherry, has three seasons of interest in the year. It is one of the first shrubs to flower in spring, fluffy, pale yellow flowers nestling in clusters on the bare twigs like Easter-egg chickens. In late summer, there is occasionally, after a hot summer, a crop of bright red edible fruits, which are still used in some countries to make preserves and cordials. In autumn, the leaves turn bronze and red and provide a good splash of colour.

Cornus mas, an easy and satisfactory shrub, grows to about 12 feet (3.7 m), more in a mild climate, is deciduous and hardy, and will grow in any good garden soil, with or without lime. It is a late developer, flowering sparsely to begin with, but Vita Sackville-West discovered that ‘it improves yearly with age and size and one year will suddenly surprise you by the wealth o^ its blossom.’ Once established, it will provide you with plenty of branches for the house to mix with evergreen foliage.

Plant it, if possible, against a dark evergreen background, such as holly, and underplant it with pale yellow crocuses and early daffodils, like ‘February Gold’.

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