There are many signs that spring has officially sprung, but none really capture the attention quite like early blooming landscape life. The flowering dogwood is known for its beautiful early spring blooms, but notably has a 4-season appeal, making it one of the most popular flowering ornamental trees in our area!
The flowering dogwood is a slow growing deciduous tree, but reaches its full height potential between 15 – 30′. The dark reddish-brown bark is very rough and resembles square-like plates, but that is quickly offset by its attractive green oval leaves to soften its look. In the autumn, the colder weather helps the leaves transition into a showy shade of red, extending its appeal. The texture of the bark, the graceful color of the leaves and the elegant branches combine to really give it the title of having year-round appeal.
While this tree is favorable all year, its real time to shine starts in the early spring. Its spring blooms can be found in beautiful shades of white, pink and red. A fun fact about the dogwood, is that its “flowers” are actually bracts, or modified leaves, and the flower itself is the cluster of yellow-green spikes in the center! The showy petal bracts open up and lay flat making the whole unit look like one large flower. Be sure to plant this tree where you are sure to see it from inside your home so you can appreciate it at any time of year!
Besides being an attractive ornamental, this tree also produces fruit, which is often overlooked. The berries are bright red and appear in clusters from September to October. The fruit is bitter and is harmful to humans, but outdoor critters can’t get enough of them! All walks of wildlife love to snack on the dogwood fruit, especially deer, chipmunks and squirrels. These animals are actually the secret to the dogwood’s success. Once the animal, you know, does its business, the seeds find themselves in a new location, and with its own fertilizer for nutrients. With this being the most common method for new tree growth in the wild, the flowering dogwood has established itself as a thriving understory tree. In nature, this tree tolerates growing beneath taller trees like oak, hickory and pine. Believe it or not, the flowering dogwood will actually live in cohabitation with the black walnut, which we all know, does not always play nice with others.
Before planting a flowering dogwood in your landscape, be sure to pick a proper location. Flowering dogwoods do not handle stress well, so if you live in an area with common drought, compacted soil or high winds, this tree will not fare so well. Also, be sure to keep an eye on the flowers for spotting. In certain areas of the country, these dogwoods are susceptible to a disease called anthracnose. This disease is caused by a fungus that creates dieback of the lower branches and spotting on the flowers. If your area is not prone to this particular disease, chances are you will be just fine. Planting this tree in a well-drained fertile and moderately moist location that gets full to partial sun will guarantee that you will have one happy tree on your hands. The flowering dogwood is essentially the total package when it comes to a year-round landscaping focal point and makes a great addition to any property.
From focal points to complete landscape design, MasterPLAN Landscape Design has the background, experience and keen eye to transform a plain or plagued backyard to an area that you won’t want to take your eyes off of! If you would like to discuss the full potential for your own backyard, reach out to MasterPLAN. We are ready to lend our expertise with our comprehensive design vision and project management skills to properly plan and construct your dream backyard. Let us help turn your outdoor dreams into a reality!
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