Thursday, April 20, 2006

Cherokee Brave in Bloom

You may remember me grousing about the prices for a Cherokee Brave dogwood last July. I’m sure you’re dying of anticipation to find out whether I purchased one or not and, if I did, how I like it. In fact, I KNOW you’re curious about this tree, because one of the top hits on my blog is “Cherokee Brave dogwood,” second only to the hits for “pictures of girls with hairy legs and armpits.” (I am, unfortunately, not kidding. I actually got fan mail for this posting of an old college essay.)

The follow-up story: I waited until Moeller’s Greenhouse held its “Moeller Days” last August, during which I could redeem the “Moeller Bucks” I had earned over the season. I had 27 Moeller Bucks, which is a telling indication of how much money I spent there last season. (You get $1 for every $10 you spend – and I didn’t get the bucks every time.) I was hoping my tree would be on sale, but it wasn’t. I was committed to buying it, though. I was with my neighbor, Mary, and her SUV and my Moeller Bucks were burning a hole in my pocket; I couldn’t, and didn’t, leave without it. That tree was the single most expensive thing I bought all year. I hoped it would be worth it in the spring. (Perversely, the greenhouse held a big 40% off sale the next weekend. Live and learn, huh? I comfort myself by thinking that the dogwoods were all gone by then.)

All winter, I suspected that the thing was dead. When spring arrived and the temperatures warmed up, I saw no sign of leaves and the flower buds remained tightly closed. By mid-April, I was ready to take the tag back to the nursery for a refund. Over the weekend, I visited my neighbor Tim’s land near Lexington, Kentucky. The dogwoods there were brightening up the woods with their starry, white blooms. It made me sick to look at them thriving while my tree was a dead, rotting, expensive stick.

We returned from our Kentucky trip with trilliums and crested iris from Tim’s property. (The trilliums were growing in the trail and would have been trampled over the season.) I potted them up in the garage and carried them around to the shade on the back deck. As I was moving back and forth, something light caught my attention in a back corner of the yard. This sounds cliché, but I literally did not believe my eyes. I moved closer, and, YES, my dogwood was alive and blooming.

Once I recovered from the shock, I eyed it a bit more critically. Up close, the blossoms are streaked with red, but from a few feet away, this fancy variety does not look much different than the species form of Cornus florida. If anything, the flowers look more yellow, than white or pink, en masse. However, the difference between white and pink flowering dogwoods was only $6. I don’t begrudge that small amount. I’m just so glad that it isn’t dead, so that I don’t feel like a total fool for spending $100 on a single tree.


Blogger Jenn said...

Yay! for blooms.

We planted a very expensive Bloodgood maple two years ago that I think bit it last winter. The trunk is sunscaled so bad it's nearly split in two, and while my little maples in pots are long in the bud and nearly in leaf, the bloodgood hasn't moved. Sigh.

A year too late to take it back for a refund. Grrr.

6:20 AM  
Anonymous Andy said...

Looks nice. I found a Cherokee Princess dogwood for $30 at Lowes last March, it was perhaps 4 feet tall and the buds were nearly bursting. The price was right, so I got it and planted it in a great spot (will eventually block view of the neighbor's messy porch).

Unfortunately, it was pounded by the late freeze we had early last April (I'm just south of Lexington KY). Though the buds survived, the blooms came out looking somewhat worse for the wear, and didn't pollinate.

I think the tree benefited from not having to make any berries, though, as it grew over a foot taller by the end of summer. Here's hoping for a bigger display this spring... and every year after :)

1:50 PM  
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2:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a Cherokee chief for 8 years and it was in bloom when I bought it but no flower for 8 years then this year FINALLY FLOWERS YEAH what a pretty tree.

8:41 AM  

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