The Village Burial Ground, densely shadowed as it is, does hold one tree which in the dark days of early February catches the eye of the passer by. At the back, a small leafless tree shines bright yellow, covered with its little umbels of flowers born on short twiggy sideshoots.

The Cornus mas, one of the large Dogwood family, is also known as the Cornelian Cherry .and its flowers appear before the leaves. The tree grows to between 12’ to 15’ and is best placed against a SW facing wall – not in the deep shade of the Burial Ground. It produces small cherry like fruits in the Summer in its home range of Southern Europe and Asia and the fruit are widely used as a drink, and for medicinal purposes in its native warmer climates. Here even in despite of the excellent summer, it does not seem to fruit often in the UK

Brought here sometime in the  16th century, its early striking colour is very welcome, and the small dark leaves arriving later make the small tree a useful background plant in the border. It is very hardy ,even in our northern climate, and the dark wood is unusually dense, and even sinks in water. Where the trees grow freely, ancient records have shown that the wood was used for  tool handles, and even shaped into weaponery such as spears and javelins.

Jill Manuel

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