Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Yellow Spring Flowers

There are simply no forsythias blooming this year.  It's April 12, two weeks after the ubiquitous shrubs normally explode into their hot yellow masses everywhere, and there are none to be seen.

When we drove down toward the shore there were plenty in bloom, but none up here. The early April snow and cold temperatures came at exactly the wrong time and killed off this year's flowers.

Not forsythia.
Cornus mas (Corneliancherry)
I didn't think that could happen. Forsythias are indestructible, everlasting and impossible to kill. That's why every homeowner over the past 80 years planted hedges of them in every suburban yard.

They hold soil on highway embankments. They surround public buildings and parking lots. Their screaming yellow color is as reliable as spring mud. They never fail to bloom riotously.

Not this year, it seems.

I do have yellow spring flowers, though. Not forsythias, but yellow blooming dogwood trees. Cornus mas.

These are Corneliancherry trees, not the typical pink or white flowering dogwood that blooms in May.

While Cornus mas is sometimes mistaken for forsythia -- both yellow, both bloom very early in the season -- they really do not look similar.

For one thing, Cornus mas is a tree, not a big arching shrub. For another thing, its flowers are tiny and subtle, and more of a light haze from afar than the riot of bright yellow that forsythia sports.

The Cornus mas tree at the back of the yard flowered well at the very end of March. This one was a large 15 gallon plant that I planted in 2011.

It seems to flower at the bottom and middle, but there are no blooms along the top of the tall upright branches.

The other Corneliancherry tree along the driveway had a sad and tortured history. I planted it in 2010 as a tiny plug, just a few inches high. I always have such hopes for my baby trees and am not daunted by how little they are at first.

But in 2011 it was snapped off to the ground by heavy snow, and was pretty much given up for gone.

Now, five years later, it has regrown from nothing to the same height and size as the 15 gallon dogwood I planted at the back of the yard. In 2016 this is already a real tree. I have problems with it tilting in the wet soil where it is planted, and so it is staked, bound, and trussed.

It isn't as flowery as the other one. The flowers on this one are subtle to the point of not being noticed.

Maybe it just needs a better background -- evergreens or woods behind it. Also, the cultivar I bought was 'Aurea Variegata', with gold margins on the leaves, but I've only ever seen green leaves. I think when it got chopped off it regrew from the original rootstock, so I won't see any variegated foliage.

Given its rebound from dead stick to full tree in just five years I should be generous with my expectations.

Both of these golden yellow dogwoods got a little discouraged when early April cold and snow arrived, but they do still bloom on, although not as brightly now in mid April.

The daffodils that had popped up before our snow and deep freeze are now very sad looking. Still blooming, but their heavy yellow heads droop.

And no forsythias flowering anywhere. That's never happened before.


  1. Perhaps the forsythias will bloom a bit later? While we are a bit behind you in time our forsythias are still looking dead. I don't grow this cornus mas but the flowers remind me of the spicebush which I grow.

    1. You're right, they do look like spicebush blooms! I don't think the forsythias are delayed -- they got zapped hard at just the wrong time. The red maple flowers are all brown and dead too -- it wasn't that it was so cold, really. It was timing. Mother Nature is so fickle. . .