Finally, A Blooming Pink Dogwood

This falls into the good-things-come-to-those-who-wait category. With visions of a small tree full of delicate pink blossoms each May, the very first tree I purchased and planted after moving to our current home 16 years ago was a pink dogwood (Cornus florida ‘Rubra’).  I’ve waited all these years for  ‘masses of rose-pink flowers’ as promised by the plant tag.

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I know, I know … this is not exactly ‘masses of rose-pink flowers’ but it’s certainly masses more than the small tree produced in previous years. If I saw one bloom I was lucky. Last year my little tree produced an historic bumper crop … three rose-pink flowers. (I have no photos to prove this since it was just too sad a sight to take photos of.)

But this year it finally decided to put on a decent show.

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Now … in all honesty … my little dogwood had a different home before settling into its current location. I moved it after about two or three years. It’s only been resting in its current spot for about a dozen years or so. It also enjoyed a bit more sunshine last summer than it had in previous years … we had to remove a very large oak that shaded roof-mounted solar panels, as well as my dogwood.

Who knows exactly why this dogwood finally decided to put out masses of blooms. Was it finally feeling settled? Was it the additional light? Was it last season’s weather?

It gave me a hint last autumn that it was ready to be a bit more showy. Here it is trying to grab the autumn-reds show from neighboring winterberry (Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Red’).

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There’s the dogwood, in all its burgundy glory, behind the berry-laden winterberry. The dogwood looked better last autumn than it has in all the years we’ve shared garden space, and it held it’s burgundy color for a very long time.

Still, tainted from past disappointments, I did not hope for it to put out multiple blossoms.

But it did …

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and I’m enjoying every second of the show.

I’ve been told by a local horticultural sage that flowering dogwood respond to a bit of abuse. Cutting into the root edges with a shovel, I was told, encourages it to bloom. I cannot say this advice works, or does not. My dogwood did not receive such treatment. All I know is that my dogwood had a bit more light last year than it had for many, many years before, and … maybe … after a dozen years in the same spot it finally feels at home and is ready to shine.

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7 comments for “Finally, A Blooming Pink Dogwood

  1. May 13, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    I would vote for increased light, though I have to agree that in gardening, patience is rewarded. Dogwoods are only marginally hardy here. I have been given seedlings but I am not sure they made it through the winter. I’m not ready to spend money on one.

    • May 14, 2013 at 7:09 am

      Kathy and Sue, I’m leaning toward a combination of more light and a bit less competition for water and nutrients from the massive oak root system. It’s so rewarding to see beloved plants and trees shine.

      Kathy: good luck with your dogwood seedlings. Like you, I would not spend hard earned bucks on a dogwood if it were marginally hardy, but I would take risks with free seedlings.

  2. Sue
    May 14, 2013 at 6:22 am

    Depending on how close it was to the oak it could be a combination of more light and less root competition. As I’m sure you know, large trees suck alot of moisture out of the surrounding soil. Since living in this house I’ve removed two large trees from my garden and both times the plants that remained performed remarkably better almost as soon as the trees were gone. Whatever the reason though…yay!

  3. May 14, 2013 at 8:37 am

    That poor little dogwood sure seemed to be struggling until the bigger tree was gone. I’m glad it’s perking up for you finally. There is nothing like the show of flowering dogwoods right now.

    My friend had one that did not bloom for years and years. She finally got out the chainsaw to cut down the offending tree, but never actually used it. The sight of that saw in readiness was enough — the dogwood bloomed that year.

    • May 14, 2013 at 5:22 pm

      Laurrie, that’s a funny story. I was about ready to remove mine before I saw this year’s blooms. Maybe they sense the frustration of their caretakers and then decide they better bloom or lose!

  4. May 14, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    you are one patient lady! luckily patience pays off, it’s a beautiful tree in all seasons.

    • May 14, 2013 at 9:47 pm

      Marguerite, my dogwood was very close to becoming history. It saved itself this season by blooming more fully than in previous years. I’m beginning to wonder if it knew the saw was in its future and, as a result, it chose self-preservation.

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