Flowering dogwood a 4 season landscape favorite
Spring flowering native dogwoods
The poetry of dogwoods
"High o'er all the early floral train,
Where softness all the arching sky resumes,
The dogwood dancing to the winds' refrain,
In stainless glory spreads its snowy blooms."
-George Marion McClellan (1860-1934)
Dogwoods are a food source
Beautiful spring blooming trees
Dogwoods have inspired legends, festivals and tours. These small spring blooming trees attract pollinators and provide food for birds and wildlife. In the fall, leaves turn pure red.
In the wild, the flowering dogwoods flourish in moist, shady areas with nutrient-rich soil. In the home landscape, dogwoods will generally tolerate a range of soil conditions and both full sun and shade. In heavy shade, dogwood trees will not bloom.
Dogwoods depend on bees, beetles, butterflies, and other insects for pollination. Trees are not browsed by deer.
The fruits last from September through December. Some of the animals that eat the bright red fruits are song birds, wild turkeys, foxes, racoons, deer and chipmunks. The seeds are spread by birds and animals who eat the fruits and poop the seeds out in different places.
Plant dogwoods as a specimen tree to accent home landscapes. Line a driveway or border the property.
Dogwoods are deciduous, and belong to the family Cornaceae. Theses trees or shrubs are considered woody plants, with a perennial stem with thick bark.
Landscapers love their four-season attraction. Cornus florida has spring flowers, summer fruits, spectacular fall color and an interesting winter silhouette.
A bible story told in flowers
The legend of the dogwood
Once dogwood trees were tall and straight as the giant redwoods. And so, it was chosen to build Jesus' cross.
The dogwood tree was shamed and distressed to be chosen for such a cruel purpose. Jesus sensed the tree's pity and shame while he was nailed upon the cross of dogwood.
Because of the dogwood tree had such pity for the suffering of Jesus, the Lord said, “Never again will a dogwood tree grow tall and strong enough to be used for a cross.” To this day, the dogwood tree is slim and grows twisted or bent.
There are four petals in each flower that form a cross. The two long and two short petals represent the cross. The trees bloom every spring to tell the Easter story.
In the center of the flower is the crown of thorns stained with blood. At the edge of each petal there is the print of the nail. Every flower on the dogwood tree tells the legend of the dogwood.*
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Finding a man
In frontier times in the American west, a young girl newly of marriageable age would wear a white dogwood flower to go out walking, with the expectation that the first man she met wearing a white hat would have the same first name as the man she would one day marry.
A tree for all seasons
bonus winter color
deer do not browse
long flowering period
small size ideal for suburbs
few insect or disease problems
scarlet red foliage
provides food for birds
A sampling of cities and towns in the USA that hold dogwood festivals. These are usually annual events coinciding with the blooming of the trees in the spring.
The Dogwood Festival of Charlottesville, Virginia
The Fayetteville, North Carolina Dogwood Festival
Winchester, Tennessee, Dogwood Festival
The Dogwood Festival, Quincy, Illinois
The "Dogwood Festival of the Lewis-Clark Valley" Lewiston, Idaho
The "Lake of the Ozarks Dogwood Festival" Camdenton, Missouri.
A Dogwood Festival Perry County, Indiana
An annual Dogwood Festival, Farmville, North Carolina
The annual Dogwood Festival, Woodville, Texas
A Dogwood Festival, Vinton, Virginia.
A Dogwood Festival, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.
A Dogwood Festival, Mebane, North Carolina.
A Dogwood Festival, Mullens, West Virginia.
Native American Indian legends
A beautiful Cherokee princess was once courted by a brave. When she ignored his advances, he flew into a rage and killed the maiden.
As the princess lay dying, the blossoms of a dogwood soaked up her blood. The tale is explains the red stains at the tip of each petal. The pink flowered dogwood is named Cherokee in honor of this legend.
- Thomas Jefferson loved dogwoods, he planted them extensively at his home in Monticello, Virginia. It is now the state tree in Virginia, North Carolina and, Missouri.
An American Indian chief who had four beautiful daughters. He said he would marry each daughter to suitors who brought him the greatest number of ponies or the most valuable gifts. The Great Spirit disapproved of the plan of selling the girls, & so turned the chief into a small tree with twisted branches. His daughters are the four showy bracts of the dogwood flowers.
How to grow a dogwood tree
The flowering dogwood tree, also known as Cornus florida, is a member of the Cornaceae family. Dogwoods grow in nature as understory trees, so they naturally prefer part sun and nutrient-rich, well-drained soil. They prefer afternoon shade or some protection from the harshest sunlight. The tree is usually grows 20 - 30 feet in height or about 18 inches in diameter.
Pruning dogwoods to improve their vigor and structure just after their flowers fade. Trim trees immediately after bloom to avoid interfering with next springs flowers.
Their small size makes the dogwood ideal for the home landscape. The shallow root system will appreciate additional water during droughts. Take care to protect the tree from lawnmowers and weed trimmers.
Mulch will protect the tree from temperature extremes and prevent soil compaction. A layer of 2” to 4” of mulch will keep the roots and soil moist. Keep the mulch from touching the trunk of the tree.
Dogwoods for winter Interest
- ♥ The Ozarks are filled with a native flowering dogwood, Cornus florida. The famous Southern dogwood festivals celebrate their long blooming, brilliant white flowers that hug the edges of the woodlands.
- The Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttalli) USDA zones 8a to 10b, is considered the West Coast version of the flowering dogwood.
- The roughleaf dogwood (Cornus drummondii), found in USDA zones 2b through 9b.
- Roundleaf dogwood (Cornus rugosa) are shorter trees found in USDA zones 2b through 7a.
- The Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa), originally from Japan and Korea, is attracting a lot of attenion in nurseries and garden centers. Kousa dogwood grow in USDA zones 2a through 6b. The kousa dogwood grows to a height of 15-25' and a spread of around 25' at maturity. Making it an excellent choice around utilities.
About The Legend of the Dogwood *
* This story of the dogwood is a legend, it has no biblical foundation. The dogwood does not grow in that part of the world. The Legend of the Dogwood appears on postcards and souvenirs throughout the South.
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