Cornus capitata or Himalayan flowering dogwood or strawberry-treeSurprise cheer ambushed us in a nursery last weekend, on a perfect sunny Saturday afternoon – another insistent beauty demanding our attention. It was love, and we brought her home – with dreams of how someday she will grow to a height of ten or twenty feet, gracing the beginning of our garden wall as you approach our house along the driveway. The promise of fruit which may be  unremarkable in taste for us, might please our visiting flickers and robins with the strawberry-coloured fruit of fall.

I’ve always loved the shape of dogwood flowers, which oddly enough, I primarily associate with my mother and the Depression era glass she collected to supplement the plates her own mother had. Many years we started a drive in the early darkness to Folsom for an annual antiques market where glass and pottery dealers offered the best selection. Eventually my mother’s collection of pink and green dogwood luncheon plates, and even rare cups and divided dinner plates was made complete with a large fruit bowl and cake plate. I began my own collection as well, and treasure these pieces tho perhaps I should bring them out to use, rather than guard them.

The actual trees were always an exotic thing of visits to the Sierra foothills and I had never imagined we would actually plant one.  We are hopeful, and perhaps optimistic for in the week it has been home, awaiting a cleared planting space to be prepared, the worst that happened was getting knocked over by deer, who otherwise ignored it. When it is in the soil and begins to grow, we hope they will continue to ignore it and leave it for the bird visitors, especially the somewhat shy flickers, so much more rare than their raucous cousins, the acorn woodies!

Pacific coast iris

Meanwhile, the local wild iris patches are thriving – this year being perhaps the best bloom we have noticed in the nearly twenty years that we have been photographing them in our immediate local area. The particular patch that this one was in has been a constant, though this year it is far more dense with blooms than I have ever known, a strange data-point in these drought times. At one time, this same patch had a growth of what initially might be mistaken as an attack of silly string but in fact was a parasitic dodder plant (Cuscuta) but it seems to have gone away in recent seasons. 

We may too often be distracted by less beautiful elements of mundane life during the week, but we are quite grateful for recognizing the beauty, even when it waits patiently for us to notice.

we found our lovely dogwood tree at the recently opened Japonica: A Gallery of Garden Ornamentals at 592 N. Fifth St, San Jose. It is located with Ken Matsumoto’s Art Object Gallery in San Jose’s Japantown. We hope to create a space for another tree we discovered there as well!