I once had a dream where I was at the intersection of Beach Drive and Kensington Parkway and I came across a very unusual flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) that had the most beautiful flowers. They were just the right shade of sky blue, sort of powdery and delicate. I thought, “now there is a tree that would sell like nobody’s business — everyone would want one for their garden.” Unfortunately, it was only a dream but I think of it every spring when the dogwood starts to bloom. Well, the regular white and pink flowered sorts are very nice, as well, if you can keep the anthracnose under control. The Asian species (Cornus kousa) is quite nice, as well, and I like the Cornel cherry (Cornus mas) although the flowers are quite different to the former. This one is in our front yard, right up against the house. It really isn’t a good place for a tree but particularly this time of year I can’t bring myself to take it out. I think it probably was a seedling that just grew there and the previous owner let it alone.
While I’m on the subject of cross-shaped flowers, I really like epimedium. There are a lot of them and more being introduced. It makes a nice ground cover, although it’s a bit of work to fill a large area with it. It is semi-evergreen, replacing last year’s dried out leaves with new leaves each spring. Some have blooms that face upwards and are held above the foliage, which is obviously a plus. Others have less conspicuous flowers that are more work to see. Flowers range from purple/red to yellow to white and are little delicate crosses, as seen here on this Epimedium x rubrum. We first saw them at the U.S. National Arboretum. A few years ago I happened to meet Marc Cathey (he was the director of the Arboretum from 1981 to 1991) and I mentioned that we fell in love with epimediums there. We agreed they were worth having and should be planted much more often.