Flowering Dogwood – The Cornus Trees of Variety

Cornus the Dogwood in flower
Each Spring the beauty of the white flowering dogwood comes to us as a fresh experience. The flattened spreading branches whiten the woodlands in May, and in the Autumn give us glorious color in the leaves and berries.

Even before the leaves drop in the Autumn the round buds of next year’s bloom appear.

In the Spring, when the buds begin to swell, the reddish bracts develop, not into a corolla as we might expect, but into four white flags which surround and draw our attention to the small greenish flowers, where on each tiny ovary nectar is secreted, and is eagerly sought by bees and butterflies.

Just before going South the robins seem to lose all self-control, and gobble the red berries until none are left for Winter.

There are many shrub Cornus, the red-osier, Cornus stolonifera, is one known by its purplish red twigs, and “kinnikinnick,” Cornus amomum, often called Indian tobacco.

Cornus paniculata is a very pretty shrub, with smooth gray branches. It is a white-fruited species, each small fruit on a pink stem. In June the bush is striking with many loose clusters of white flowers. We have this shrub growing on our place.

It flourishes in deep, damp soil, but in spite of its many attractive qualities, it is not wholly to be recommended for planting, as it has a way of taking over the whole territory where it grows. It is excellent for a bird sanctuary, as the birds delight in the white berries.

Perhaps the most charming dogwood of them all is the dwarf Cornus, or bunchberry. It used to flourish near Boston, but is now seldom found. Fortunately it still forms beautiful ground covers in northern woods.

There is a pink flowering dogwood, Cornus florida rubra, cultivated since 1731. It combines beautifully with the white variety.

Moving Dogwood Trees?

Question My friends tell me that I will have to wait until March to move my young dogwoods. Is this correct?

Answer No, you can move dogwoods anytime during their dormant season. If the trees are small you can handle them bare-root, but dig up all the roots carefully and replant immediately. Be sure the roots do not dry out while they are out of the ground.

Companion Plants

Azaleas and dogwoods are companion plants in gardens in many parts of our country, and well they should be, for generally speaking, they are abundant producers of bloom.

To be sure, the exotic species and varieties of azaleas occasionally have their buds nipped by unanticipated frosts, and the dogwoods have an occasional “off” year. But, for the most part, these are stable plants and good companions, too.

The dogwoods give forth with Autumn color and fruits that delight the birds, and the evergreen azaleas, and those that lose their leaves, contribute to the pageant of Autumn color also.

Colorful pink Azalea in flower

In Winter the branches of the dogwoods make pleasant shadows against the snow or tracery against the sky when soft feathery moisture comes fluttering down.

Azaleas, also, in their various forms of twig and foliage character, are plants of year-round interest. More and more we are learning to select, plant and arrange our gardens to be appealing through all the seasons.

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