Answer: I think you're describing Cornus nuttallii - Pacific or Western White Dogwood ? (-10?F, USDA Zones 6-9) This is the ethereal West Coast native whose large flower bracts appear before the leaves, first a soft green and later a pristine white or sometimes a blush pink. On the western dogwood the real flowers (?'') are purple to green, clustered inside 4-8 pointed showy bracts. Site these trees in a sunny, open location with good air circulation for best bloom but Cornus nuttallii can perform well in considerable shade. Unfortunately, this tree is not suited to the eastern United States. How about a small magnolia instead?
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