Garden In The Burrow plants and rants by gardening diva Cheryl Monroe
  • Dogwoods

    Filed under Posts
    Feb 4

    Living in New England where gray skies and leafless trees dominate our winter landscape, a wonderful way to add much needed color to the garden is by using what are commonly referred to as Red Twig Dogwood shrubs (even though some are flame colored, orange-y or even yellow). There are a few different species , and many cultivars that will all do well in our USDA growing zone and require little care once established.

    Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ (sometimes called ‘Winter Flame’) is the least common of the bunch. It will grow to about 5 ft x 5ft and sports showy yellow, orange and red, almost glowing stems in the winter. If you have ever visited Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston and seen their very well done winter garden, ‘Midwinter Fire’ is the  backbone and show stopper of the garden above the turtle fountain and pondaf

    Even smaller and perfectly suitable for container growing is cornus sanguinea ‘Arctic Sun’proven_winners_cornus_arctic_sun_red_twig_dogwood1

    Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’ called tatarian dogwood, has lovely variegated leaves in the warmer months and very twiggy bright red stems in the winter. It can grow to be 8 feet tall.  A dwarf form Cornus alba ‘Ivory Halo ‘is also available.032005

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    Cornus alba ‘Silver and Gold’ had variegated leaves and brilliant yellow stems in winter. Cornus alba ‘Budd’s Yellow’ is another great  yellow twig dogwood, both will grow to be 5-7 ft. i have had a tricky time with my yellow twig dogwoods because they are bunny magnets. I tried caging them off , and last year I went so far as to add a thick planting of big leaf coreopsis all around the base of the shrubs inside the cage. That seems to have helped immensely and they now seem on the mend. The photo below was taken at Tower Hill Botanic Garden , look how the yellow dogwood stems play off the foliage of the chamaecyparis ( the evergreen) to the right, pure garden genius!011 (2)

     

    I cut and use lots of stems in my winter containers and inside arrangements too.016 (2)026

    All dogwood shrubs share the common characteristics of being tolerant of a wide range of soils including very wet and boggy ones, growing in sun to part shade and being easy to care for. They also will self layer, meaning stems low to the ground that touch the soil will send out roots so over time you can either separate and dig up the new baby shrubs  and give them away to happy gardening friends or start a thicket . I usually go for the thicket and/or relocating them somewhere here since I have so much space. ( But if you were here and asked me nicely I would not hesitate to get the shovel and share).

    The only suggested maintenance is renewal pruning; or removing 1/3 of the oldest stems to the ground annually. This will prompt the shrub to put out lots of new growth, and it is this  young bark that has the most vivid winter color.As dogwood stems age they become dark and gray in color and really, since our world is already dark and gray in color during winter it is best to try to remember to thin them in the spring so your color starved garden soul will have a treat.

     

     

     

One Response to “Dogwoods”

  1. I wish my dogwoods showed up as vibrantly as these. They are planted in an area that doesn’t get backlit, so they don’t shine as they could. I am thinking of moving them, and your post has rekindled my desire to do so.

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