A Profusion of Flowers: Dogwood

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There is nothing quite like a flowering tree to fill the garden with a profusion of flowers.  Our native dogwood, Corunus florida, which explodes with flowers each April, remains my favorite.

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Chosen by the Virginia Native Plant Society as their Wildflower of the Year for 2018, flowering dogwood is an easy to grow understory tree which adapts to sun or partial shade.

Native across most of the Eastern half of the United States, from Florida to New Hampshire and west to Texas in zones 5-9, dogwood adapts to many soils and climates.  They prefer neutral to slightly acidic, moist soil and afternoon shade.

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Dogwoods are found growing along the edges of deciduous forests, but are also popular trees for parks and neighborhoods.  Their clouds of white or pink flowers, when in bloom, show up through shady woods or down winding neighborhood streets.  They grow to only about 30′, which makes dogwood a good landscape choice close to one’s home.

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Dogwoods are one of our most wildlife friendly native trees.  They offer nectar to pollinators early in the season, and their canopy supports over 100 species of butterfly and moth larvae in summer.  Many other insects find shelter in their branches, which makes them a prime feeding spot for song birds all summer long.  Birds find shelter and nesting spots in their branches, and in autumn  their plump scarlet fruits ripen; a feast for dozens of species of birds and small mammals.

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The beautiful white ‘petals’ which surround a dogwood’s flowers are actually bracts.  The flowers are small, almost unnoticeable and yellow green, in the center of four bracts.  A cluster of drupes emerges by September, rosy red and beautiful against a dogwood’s scarlet autumn leaves.

Birds distribute dogwood seeds over a wide area, and they grow easily from seed in the garden or the wild.  Young trees grow relatively quickly and are seldom grazed by deer.

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I am always happy to notice a dogwood seedling crop up in our garden and astounded at how quickly they develop.  A seedling dogwood will most likely bloom by its fourth or fifth spring.

Dogwood trees may also be started from cuttings, especially if more trees of a particular form or color are needed.  Their seeds may be gathered and planted outside in a prepared bed in autumn.  They need cold stratification to germinate, and so an outdoor seedbed is a reliable method to grow new trees from gathered seeds.

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There are many dogwood cultivars and trees found with white, pink or red bracts.  There are also several other native and Asian species in the Cornus genus, some with beautiful variegated foliage or colorful stems.

All are relatively pest free and graceful plants.  The Anthracnose virus is a problem for dogwood trees in some areas.  Good hygiene, removing and destroying any affected plant tissue, is important in controlling this fungal disease.  Keeping the tree in good health, especially irrigating during drought, helps to prevent disease problems.

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The last time I counted, we had at least 15 native dogwood trees around our garden, filling it, this month, with billowing clouds of flowers.  It nearly takes my breath away when the sun is shining and we see them against a colorful backdrop of budding trees and clear blue sky.

There is such prolific beauty in April, how can one person take it all in?

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Woodland Gnome 2018
For the Daily Post’s
Weekly Photo Challenge:  Prolific
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About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

12 responses to “A Profusion of Flowers: Dogwood

  1. Our native dogwoods began to bloom this week. They are glorious. Fun to celebrate this bloomage (is that a word?) together 🙂

    • If ‘bloomage’ isn’t a word, it certainly should be. I will begin to use it from here on. It has a nice ring to it! The blossoms look larger and whiter than usual here. I think our recent cold, wet weather must make them very happy! I am happy driving around neighborhoods just admiring the yards filled with dogwood trees 😉 Happy spring! ❤ ❤ ❤

  2. lynnkelleyauthor

    Lovely blog post.

  3. Pingback: Prolific: Rain – What's (in) the picture?

  4. These are beautiful! I’ve been in the southeast US for only about a decade and found the dogwoods to a revelation. Ours are only now starting to blossom–I’m looking forward to the next wave of blooms in the next week. Thank you!

  5. Your dogwood trees are beautiful! We’re at the north end of their range, so they aren’t seen in the wild like down South and most of the ones in yards succumbed to anthracnose when it went through years ago. I have one I planted several years ago that is limping along. Wish it would look like yours!

    • That is interesting, Eliza, to hear that flowering dogwoods struggle in Massachusetts. I have heard that they are grown in southern Canada. Good to hear that yours is still growing. I have found several new seedlings in a perennial bed this spring, and will need to move them this fall.I would love to have a forest of them 😊

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