Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dogwood Trees

I first came to appreciate flowering dogwood trees, Cornus florida (Missouri's official state tree),  many years ago when I used to take my walks to the local library.  Across the street was a Quaker school that had many dogwoods and every May I eagerly awaited their beautiful flowers.  Although the blooms of our dogwoods have already fallen, I managed to take several pictures of the trees that surround the meadow.  These deciduous trees make wonderful understory trees and provide great texture in the woodland.  They have very narrow trunks and can grow to be about 35 feet in height.  The branches tend to grow laterally instead of upward, giving them a very interesting shape.  Let me show you what I mean.


Next to these steps is a young Cornus florida.


Here's a closeup.  The white bracts aren't technically petals, but rather modified leaves.  The actual 
flower is the green cluster in the middle.


This tree is next to the stone barn.  It's a little under 20 feet in height.


You can see how the clusters spring upward.


At the entrance to the meadow, this beautiful Cornus is in full display.  The showy flowers really stand out against all this green.



A sea of white.  Absolutely stunning!


You can see what I mean when I say that the branches are lateral.  All of the canopy trees behind them have upward growing branches.


Here's another closeup of these blooms.
They truly are beautiful & quite delicate.


Cornus florida are native to the eastern United States and will thrive if planted correctly.  Whether you buy a ball & burlap tree or one from a container, good-draining soil and sufficient moisture are key.  The hole you dig should be three times the size of the root ball & the top of the ball should be at ground level.  When you back fill, use the same soil and remove any debris such as stones.  Dogwoods like to be given partial shade and will do well if sheltered by canopy trees; the second to last picture perfectly illustrates this.  If you live in the right zone for a Cornus florida you really should consider having one.  I'm almost certain you'll be awaiting their lovely blooms each and every May.

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