To create a beautiful garden with year-round appeal it’s essential to pick the best plants, and few celebrate the seasons more than colourful cornus. Commonly called dogwoods, these reliable and hardy shrubs provide a luscious leafy backdrop to summer flowers. As a final fanfare their foliage is transformed into a rainbow of colours through autumn before fluttering away to reveal brilliant wand-like stems.
For summer foliage and winter stems:
Cornus alba varieties – such as ‘Elegantissima’, ‘Aurea’, ‘Spaethii’, and Siberian dogwood ‘Sibirica’
Cornus sericea varieties – such as Golden-twig dogwood ‘Flaviramea’ and dwarf Kelsey’s Gold
Cornus sanguinea varieties – such as ‘Midwinter Fire’ and ‘Winter Beauty’
Small trees with attractive flowers and foliage:
Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’ (AGM)
Cornus kousa varieties like ‘Miss Satomi’ (AGM)
For winter flowers:
Cornus mas – dainty yellow flowers in winter, red fruits in late summer
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1. Where dogwoods are specifically being grown for their winter stems they’ll need annual pruning. This is simply done by cutting all stems down to their woody base close to ground level every spring. This encourages new stems to develop during the year, and it’s these you’ll enjoy the following winter.
2. If you fancy having a go at propagating your own dogwoods then try taking hardwood cuttings. Once leaves have fallen, lengths of stem can be prepared and inserted into slits in the ground filled with gritty sand. Heal in firmly and keep watered if conditions are dry. Cuttings should root over spring/summer and produce well rooted new plants by next autumn. They’re fun to take, so check online for full advice on taking hardwood cuttings.