Tag Archives: Cornus Sanguinea

Dogwood for winter colour

Using Dogwood for winter colour
intense winter colour dogwood coloured stems

Many gardeners “in the know” will now have borders featuring the coloured stems of dogwood. These vary from deep purple to a whiter shade of pale, with reds, oranges, green and yellow. They know the secret of using dogwood for winter colour.

And in the summer these same plants offer strong growth with interesting foliage and  flower.

Established Dogwood plants  are available from garden centres in the spring, but at £12 – £20 each it will be expensive to create the sort of block colour impact that gets them noticed.

The best time to buy is early winter, when rooted stems can be bought for as little as £1 each.  The more popular varieties, such as Midwinter Fire, will cost more. But the price of bare root canes reduces the more you buy.

One of my favourite sources for bareroot and perennials is Buckingham Nurseries.

I have used dogwoods for a few years now, both for the colour and for the winter framework. When they are cut back in the spring, the shorter framework provides support for emerging bulbs and perennials. So they earn their keep more than once.

Where to see dogwood for winter colour

A place that offers an idea of the sort of impact these plants provide is Dorney lake. I go there occasionally to drop my boy off to row or cycle, and always stop to look at the flowing banks of colour. It reminds of opening a large set of coloured pencils for the first time, seeing the colour themes grouped together, transforming from one shade to the next.

Dogwood for winter colour
Dogwood bank from a distance
Dogwood for winter colour
A closer view
Dogwood for winter colour
Willows add the golden hue

I also like the garden at RHS Wisley, where the dogwoods are planted closer to the water, with paths meandering through. From the opposite side of the pond you can see them reflected in the water, amplifying the intensity of the colour.

Dogwood for winter colour
Dogwood beds by the pond
Dogwood for winter colour
Midwinter fire with a Rubus foil

 

Both these places use other plants with similar properties to accentuate the effects. At Dorney a golden stemmed Willow provides intense yellow, while Wisley uses the ghostly Rubus brambles to provide a white foil.

Unless you have a significant garden that is likely to be where the  large colour block concept ends. But you can use dogwood for winter colour in the smallest garden, using just a few plants. But in order to see the intensity of one colour there needs to be another present, rather like a straight man; Laurel and Hardy, Morecambe and Wise or Barker and Corbett.

Using just green or just red won’t do because you can’t see quite how green or red it really is. I use other dogwood colours, or other coloured stems, to provide the contrast, but anything that provides a backdrop will do.

How to get that intense stem colour dogwood for winter colour

The best colour shows on the newest stems. And that implies that you have to cut off the old ones – mostly – every year. Do it while the plant is dormant, normally by the end of February. But delaying pruning until later will maximise the colour show. In established plants, wait until the new leaves start to show, then either coppice to a low stump, or pollard for a mid-height effect.

The best time to prune for most of us is when you have time to do it. But to get the best result of strong coloured stems next winter, prune before leaf growth really gets going. Make your stem reduction before the plants energy moves to the leaves, or re-growth is impaired. That leaves a window from Late February to late March, depending on how warm it is.

Dogwood is a plant group that will enhance any garden, one I can’t contemplate being without.

Using dogwood for winter colour workshop

This spring I will show you how to prune your dogwood for winter colour, and what to do with the cut stems afterwards. I use them to create cuttings for more plants, or as cut stems in a tall vase for the hall way or lounge.

Click here for more on the free Dogwood for winter colour garden workshop.

Pruning roses and dogwoods – from the ground up

Pruning roses and dogwoods  gardening workshop

Pruning roses and dogwoods
This workshop will be held on Saturday March 12th at 10.00am.

Pruning roses and dogwoods is best done before they start producing new shoots and leaves. This is usually late winter, and so could be anywhere between early February and mid-March.

As fresh growth appears it is time to take action, so that your roses and dogwoods provide you with the best displays of colour in flower, leave and stem.

The pruning roses and dogwoods gardening workshop will also discuss how to take some of the stems you remove and use them to propagate more plants. This workshop will look at several different approaches to building up your stocks of roses and dogwoods.

pruning roses and dogwoods
Glorious winter coloured stems of dogwoods

The pruning roses and dogwoods gardening workshop will cover:

Signs that pruning is needed
Equipment needed
Where to make cuts
What to look for to remove
The effect to look for in a finished shrub
Further maintenance
How to use the cut stems to propagate
Different techniques to use to increase your stock
What results to expect
Checking progress of your cuttings
How long to wait for your new plants

pruning roses and dogwoods
Taking back dogwoods stems for new growth and best colour

About the pruning roses and dogwoods gardening workshop, and further garden workshop events

My gardening  workshops will only be able to host a limited number of guests on each occasion, on a first come or invitation basis, and are intended to impart and share knowledge, not as a commercial venture. They are a free introduction to me.

Some events will be covered presented by myself, but I also hope to introduce other local garden enthusiasts with particular passions and specialist knowledge.

This gardening workshop will be held on Saturday 12th March

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