Friday, June 19th, 2009...12:00 am

Eastern and Western Dogwoods

Dogwood In Bloom by pearson251

Dogwood In Bloom by pearson251

This spring has been an amazingly beautiful one florally. Usually during most springs on the east coast one sees the magnolia trees burst forth in bloom; but very shortly after they open there is a deadly frost that kills all the flowers. So what were once beautiful magnolias trees are now laden with frozen, brown ugly flowers. Nothing can be uglier than those big brown dead flowers. But this year it was different. The magnolia flowers remained looking lovely every day. Some magnolia trees were literaly wrapped in flowers.

The daffodils were spectacular. Everyone greeting one another saying, “isn’t this a magnificent year for daffodils?”. And it seemed like every house had amazing displays of daffodils. People in my area even had planted them in the center islands that were built to slow down traffic. So roads were beautiful as well as the gardens.

And this year wisteria were blooming their “vines” off. Visitors from the west coast were amazed to see tall trees covered with flowering wisteria. Sadly those vines strangle the trees; but still it was amazing to see all the wisteria blooms going up into the sky. Even TheGardenLady’s recalcitrant wisteria that had been dug up from her parents farm where it graced the front porch, had finally flowered this year after approximately 35 years in just this location alone- they are antiques.

But most of all it is this year’s dogwood display that is most striking. The dogwoods have had the most spectacular display I have seen in years.

For years dogwoods had been dying out. Scientists referred to this problem as Dogwood decline. Scientists and horticulturists were worried because they didn’t know why the Dogwoods were declining. Could it be insects or dogwood diseases of which there are many like anthracnose, powdery mildew, cankers, as well as other dogwood diseases or/and environmental stress?  See here.

Whatever was killing the dogwoods, there didn’t seem to be an easy solution. But everyone could see that the dogwood trees were dying out, in the wild especially. When TheGardenLady had purchased her property, the woodlands on it were filled with dogwoods both wild and planted. Most of these dogwoods have died.

ハナミズキ/Cornus florida by nobuflickr

ハナミズキ/Cornus florida by nobuflickr

Eastern Dogwood, Cornus florida grows wild in the eastern United States from Massachusetts to Ontario and Michigan, south to eastern Texas and Mexico, east to central Florida and the flowering dogwood is one of the most popular ornamental specimen trees in eastern North America.

Callery Pear (Pyrus calleryana) by ghb624

Callery Pear (Pyrus calleryana) by ghb624

TheGardenLady has not really driven around forests this year to see if the dogwood is reemerging in wooded areas. But she knows that now with the number of invasive plants, they may be causing more loss to the wild dogwood. TheGardenLady just learned that the Callery Pear has become an invasive tree in a number of states. The Callery pear, that lovely flowering tree that landscapers have planted on streets and in gardens because hoticulturists they thought they were sterile and wouldn’t multiply, has now become so invasive in woods that it is replacing those dogwoods which are in decline- further causing the demise of the dogwood.

If I were a modern day Johnny Appleseed kind of person, this GardenLady would go around planting dogwood trees all over America. Perhaps there should be a law that every garden have at least one dogwood tree to grace the yard. In TheGardenLady’s yard, two baby dogwood trees self seeded. And when I saw them growing, I put a barrier around them so that nothing would harm them. One grew in the most inconvenient spot, blocking the entrance to my house. But the dogwood comes first so anyone who wants to visit me, has to duck around the young tree. And this year, after about 5 years, these two baby dogwood trees presented me with flowers.

Cornus sericea occidentalis Western Dogwood by davidhofmann08

Cornus sericea occidentalis Western Dogwood by davidhofmann08

I wrote about Cornus florida, the Eastern dogwood. But do the readers know that there is a western dogwood? The western dogwood is called Cornus sericea ssp. occidentalis.  When I visited Yosemite National Park in June, this dogwood was blooming in the forest. The Western dogwood was used extensively in Native Indian culture.

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1 Comment

  • Dear “Garden Lady”,

    Please, check out Pacific Dogwood (aka: Western Flowering Dogwood), Cornaceae Cornus nuttallii (see:
    It is truly more eligible for the title of Western Dogwood.
    These beautiful, showy, Dogwoods originate in the NorthWest and grow in the wild of the most Western areas.
    Yes, am a bit of a Western (NorthWestern specifically) Chauvinist.
    Thank you “Garden Lady”, for allowing me to promote the symbol of British Columbia! ;)

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