April 12, 2011

Tree Rehab

This little twig, bandaged and clipped, is a recuperating Cornus mas.  It's recovering from a catastrophic injury sustained this winter under a snowbank.  It was seven inches high last fall, and when the snow melted this spring it was three inches high.  Most of the upper half of the tiny stick was still attached, but barely hanging off to the side. 

A tight wrap of velcro tape and a bright purple bag clip make a splint.

When the rescue dogs found it, blood pressure was hard to detect, pulse was thready, and vitals were unknown, but there were buds as of March.

It's hard to believe this fragile twig, snapped almost in two and now limping through spring with a ridiculous purple clip holding it together, will ever become the glorious yellow flowered tree that Marie documented this spring in Manhattan's Battery Park: see her photos from March on her blog at 66 Square Feet.

Cornus mas is a dogwood, but it's unusual.  It has a haze of golden yellow flowers in March and April, and it's a big shrubby tree.  It's the earliest dogwood to bloom, and it looks like a big forsythia, but far more elegantly shaped and way more dapper in full flower:
from Chicago Botanic Garden's "Illinois' Best Plants"

Here's an ancient one I saw last summer, limbed up and loosely espaliered in the kitchen convent garden at The Cloisters Museum in New York:

Cornus mas is called Corneliancherry, and it has small red fruits.  The reason it was cultivated in cloister gardens in the middle ages was because the cherries were an important fruit crop that could grow in a small space.  Garden advice articles say it should be sited away from walkways or patios, as the birds love the cherries and tend to make a mess with them.
from Edible Landscaping.com

Tell me, will mine survive?  It is so tiny and so grievously injured.  Rehab will be long and protracted, and I don't know if I can stand looking at that purple clip in my garden all summer.


  1. You have quite a few patients rehabing in your garden this spring...you had one heck of a winter Laurrie. Plant some annuals around the tree and spray paint the chip clip to disguise...then try to forget about it. By fall you may be surprised! How is the maple doing?

  2. I hope it recovers. I think Cat has a good idea, paint the clip to blend in.

  3. I know you'll keep thorough records of what you've done to rehab your injured trees. This may become valuable information to pass on to others. Regarding the clip: keep an eye out for a whimsical replacement that will make you smile, or at least be a conversation starter. If you have to live with it you might as well enjoy doing so. Sending positive healing waves to your gradens.

  4. You make a good nurse.

  5. That was a great idea for an on the fly tourniquet - hope it works. I love cornus mas - there's a really nice specimen at the Audubon where I live.

  6. Cat: After this terrible winter I do have a lot of ailing plants. The Japanese maple hasn't leafed out yet, but still has its clamp on, and I am advised to actually put a stainless steel screw through the break for a permanent solution.

    Gardener on Sherlock, I can always find another clip that isn't so purple! Maybe even a wooden clothespin would be less distracting.

    Joene, Thanks for sending healing thoughts to my patients in rehab!

    Donna, Thanks, but I don't want to be a nurse, I want to be a gardener!! (I guess the two do go together)

    Cyndy, I hadn't thought of it as a tourniquet, but that's what it is. I love Cornus mas and am always eager to see a mature one. I may drive over and check the Audobon one out.

  7. Sorry to hear about the latest patient. I have no ideas to offer on its recuperation but I think the purple clip is actually good. The bright colour will remind you to check on your dogwood frequently and monitor it's progress.

  8. What a wonderful tree! I've heard of them but never knew anything about them. They are really pretty and the cherries look like red coffee bean berries. I love your velcro tape and bag clip. You're a one woman botanical MASH unit!! :o)

  9. Laurrie, I say keep the clip as is, it's like a badge of honor to show what the little plant, and you as its 'doctor' have been through. Remember, hope is one of any gardener's best tools! Good luck.

  10. Marguerite, the purple clip does make me take notice every day!

    TS, Cornus mas is a stunner, I hope you checked the link in my post to Marie's blog where she shows great pictures of them in NY. I like the idea of being a botanical MASH unit!!

    Debbie, Thanks, I have so many badges of honor... I could do with fewer patients!

  11. Oh I hope it makes it! I have often admired the Cornelian Cherries at the JC Raulston Arboretum. They are lovely trees.

  12. Sweetbay, thanks for the hopeful wishes!


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