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Dogwood Tales



Dogwood with Tenement and Tobacco Barn in the Background (Cornus florida ’rubra')


London Town is a level II arboretum, a mature woodland garden with beautiful specimen trees, both native and exotic. One of the genus that enhances the woodland in spring is Cornus, commonly called dogwood. Both native and exotic dogwoods have exceptional ornamental value and they are an important food source for wildlife. “Dogwood’s true flowers are visited by butterflies and specialized bees, and its red fruits are a food source for songbirds and other wildlife from fall through winter.” https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/cornus-florida/


More Dogwoods (Cornus florida)


Speaking of flowers, dogwoods have the most exquisite blossoms of all. Unique petal like sepals are ornate and large. Cornus florida which is native to the mid-Atlantic has white as one of the common colors, but a rare pink form also occurs naturally. The sepals last for a long time. When the flower buds open up in mid-spring, the dormant woodlands which are slowly turning chartreuse green with new leaves, get an added depth of from and color with dogwoods flowers enhancing the view.


Spring gardens in the mid-Atlantic aren’t complete without dogwoods. “The native flowering dogwood, Cornus florida, is one of the most beautiful small trees in the world, with ornamental value in all seasons”. https://extension.tennessee.edu/publ.../documents/PB1670.pdf



Dogwood, Cornus kousa


But why is it called a dogwood? Apparently, both the Latin name Cornus and the common name 'dogwood' refers to the hard bark of the tree. "The genus name, Cornus, is Latin, from the word, cornu, which means "horn." This references the hardness of the wood. The species name, kousa, is the Japanese name for this plant." https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/cornus-kousa/


Dogwoods will do best when planted in a sunny location/part shade. They have very shallow roots, and don't like to be in a water logged condition. Drainage is crucial. Both C. kousa and C. florida have stunning blooms. C. kousa is a Chinese dogwood and C, florida is native. The pink dogwood is Cornus florida 'rubra' (rubra referring to rose pink).


The flowers, bark and the ornate shape of the branches makes dogwood a pretty ornamental tree suitable for any garden, big or small. The berries are bright red and ornate and, in the fall, some varieties have pretty shades of red-orange. An all season small/medium sized shrub/tree, a must for all gardens in the Mid-Atlantic.

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