Cornus drummondi is a large shrub or small tree with a fast growth rate. I know this personally from experience because just as I thought this tree was gone forever, it burst up from the alleged dead stump almost overnight. More on that later, however. Let’s talk about fruit and flowers and the attraction to birds and pollinators–in our case, mostly bees. For years, R and I dreaded the blooming of this hardy fellow in a prominent corner of our yard, right next to the screened porch and the entrance/exit from the back door to the driveway. The smell is overpowering as it moves from the fruit to the opening of the flower. Imagine an entire tree covered with the rather sweet smell of something we cannot even name, but assaulted one’s nostrils the second you opened the back door. [Note; there is one blooming on the side of the house next to my window this year, and I can smell it through the closed window. Yeah, I know, intense, right?]
So in the year 2013, a January ice storm did us a favor; it appeared as if the demise of the tree (with the then unknown name) was imminent. As soon as the thaw came and the weather warmed, the great cutting began. Pretty soon, it was nothing but limbs on the ground and the remains of the stump barely visible. I started hauling off small branches. Finally, after the snowfall this past December, this was all that was left:
I could finally reach the limbs that had been sawn from the stump, and trim back the annoying new twigs. I began to drag the big limbs down to the bottom of the hill to create the dead hedge–another ARK project. I had made what I thought was amazing progress…and then…and then…one morning…
Yes, blooming right there on top of the “dead” limbs! There was nothing to do but take a seat and wait. Somehow, the intensity of the aroma did not seem as strong and overpowering as it had before. I developed a grudging admiration for this stubborn little perennial. I began to notice it in the woods next door, and at the bottom of the hill near my dead hedge, and blooming amidst the kudzu re-establishing itself after the fire of 2015…and right next to my bedroom window. When they said growth rate = fast, they were not lying. So given the bees are in dire straits these days, I will leave this Cornus Drummondii and all its siblings and cousins alone. After all, you do not get the luxury of building an ark and then telling the elephants they cannot come on board.