slideshow: dogwoods, or cornus, i rely on

cornus mas gold leafABIG, OLD CORNUS FLORIDA, or flowering native dogwood, shaded the patio of the house I grew up in, a handsome tree in multiple seasons and one under which many Nancy Drew books were read and Good Humor popsicles savored.

I don’t grow C. florida in my current garden, but looking around here now since the snow receded and making my pruning list for the weeks ahead, I realize how many other dogwood species I do grow, and enjoy. The dogwood bloom season begins even before Forsythia, with Cornus mas (above), in April. A slideshow of it and some other reliable favorites.

Use the thumbnails to toggle between slides, or hover your cursor on the middle of the right edge of the big photo to display navigational arrows. A list of dogwood profiles and other links is below the gallery. Enjoy!

profiles of cornus:

more help:

  1. Brandon Gay says:

    I have a Cornus Kousa ‘Wolf Eyes’ at the very top of my Forest Farm order this spring. I’m sorry to hear yours has been finicky. Perhaps that should give me pause, but frankly, I’m so enamored by Wolf Eyes, if you told me it has been known to poke holes in hostas and swear at children, I would still invite it into my garden.

    It’s going on the east side of my house as an understory tree where it will receive about 3 hours of morning sunlight followed by afternoon shade. I’m in Kansas, zone 5B, and our summers are probably similar to yours, perhaps slightly warmer. Hopefully afternoon shade will prevent the leaf curl.

    I don’t think it will bloom much, but nor will it probably swear at the neighbor kids. With that foliage, who needs flowers?

  2. Dorothy says:

    I enjoyed seeing all the varities of dogwoods. I didn’t know there were so many! The dogwood is my favorite tree, but after killing four, I have to admit that I can’t have one in my zone 9 Mediteranean like climate. But I do love seeing photos of them. So I will continue having dogwood envy along with my peony envy and lilac envy, and try to be grateful for plants that I can grow!

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Dorothy. There are many more, of course, and I even have two more kinds (but no photos yet!). I love your attitude about enjoying the plants you can grow — I feel the same, or try to, when I see your warm-climate beauties!

  3. LynnBay says:

    I love the simple elegance of the dogwood! When I take the time to get out my oil paints they are my favorite subject.

  4. Barbara Evans says:

    Loved the dogwood pictures! It is one of my all time favorites. We moved to CA almost 20 years ago, and spring just isn’t the same without them! One of my favorite things to do in the spring (before the move) was to go to Valley Forge Park and enjoy all the dogwood. The house I grew up in also had a large (very old) dogwood that created a perfect hiding spot where I would take my Nancy Drew books and read for hours! Thanks for bringing back some good memories with your pictures.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Barbara. Aren’t they great? I hear you about the “hiding spot” memory — exactly how our tree was, too. See you soon, I hope.

  5. Jenny says:

    We can’t grow most of those in your garden, it’s too hot! However, I have many Cornus florida, love ’em! They pop up all over the yard, I just pot them up and give them away.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Jenny, you lucky person. C. florida gets so much fungal disease (discula fungus, or anthracnose, here in recent years). What a beautiful tree. I wish I had the right spot to make it really happy. Hope to see you soon again.

  6. Kathy M says:

    I planted a Cornus Kousa about 3 yrs ago and so far it has never bloomed . It looks healthy and is putting on growth but no flowers. It is about 6ft tall and in the shade of a very tall Tulip Popular. Too much shade?

  7. Susie Collins says:

    The dogwoods are exquisite. I want to look at the varieties and pick one that would grow well in Northern Michigan. The Cornus Kousa of the “Lustgarten Weeping” is stunning. I also like the red fruit of Cornus Mas.

  8. Colta Ives says:

    And, for those who enjoy the odd bit of Zen in their gardens, let’s hear it for the Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia).

    Enjoying your book, Margaret.


  9. Louise says:

    Wow! Great pictures that helped me identify a tree that puzzled me last August with huge red berries.

    I learned that it is a Cornus Kousa dogwood. The large red berries were such a surprise. Of course not knowing it was a dogwood, I planted a red twig bush for winter interest where peppermint plants nearly crowded it out, and a flowering dogwood in the front yard to complement a later blooming Hydrangea Pee Gee on the other side.

    The bush looked pitiful this summer. So I moved it to a sunnier spot with space. It hasn’t perked up with the nearly 100 degree weather. So I am thinking of pruning it to a foot or so hoping that the new twigs will be healthier.

    Thanks for the slideshow.

  10. Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern says:

    I love, love, love dogwoods. I tried a Cornus Mas but it didn’t like my garden. It was a mail order as they aren’t easy to find, from NC. I think it was more the location than a reflection of my growing. I need to try one again. If I ever see one available locally you can be sure I will pick it up! I grow Pagoda dogwood because it is hardy even to my zone 4! Last year it flowered for the first time and the berries were a beautiful dark shade of blue. I have another variety called golden shadows that has amazing foliage. I also grow red osier and a yellow twigged variety – both are striking in winter. The birds love dogwoods, too. I always enjoy your slideshows Margaret – such a beautiful, wondrous garden you have!

  11. Bill Plummer says:

    When I bought my Cornus Kousa some 40 years ago, I was unaware that it would develop the flaky bark. What an added bonus

    U also enjoy the early-blooming Cornus mas. I also have its Asian cousin, Cornus officianalis

    One of the dogwood you probably do not grow is the dwarf cornel, Cornus canadensis.

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Bill. I have not grown bunchberry, as we call it, in many years. I never did master getting a good stand going, but I have seen amazing ones in other gardens and wild spaces.

  12. Valerie Gazdzinski says:

    Very lovely slideshow, thank you. I have a Cornus Kouza that is about 15 years old. It always bloomed beautifully; however this winter I watched while one crazy squirrel ate almost all of the buds off both this and one of my Rhododendrons. I wanted to cry. My dogwood now has exactly 9 flowers. So discouraged, don’t know how I can stop this behavior, any suggestions. I am in Zone 6, southern New Jersey.

    1. margaret says:

      So sorry, Valerie. If I could stop squirrels and patent my findings, I’d be a billionaire. They are insane. I explain the current population explosion I am experiencing by the large acorn crop last fall. Never seen more squirrels, and never had them chew on my house, porch, outdoor furniture, take so much interest in oddball things, dig more holes, etc.

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