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Dogwood Days: North State Garden Woodland Stars (pt. 2)

To see the late-spring woodland alight with dogwood is a sight to make most anyone happy. In the North State, the show of bloom unfolds over time slowly and steadily. It starts on the Valley floor in early spring – February through May – with cultivated garden plants. Steadily, the beauty of the flowering continues up the foothills and to the montane regions and reaches a crescendo of native trees lighting your way as your approach Mt. Shasta and the Trinitys in the north, or as you enter the Sierra to the south and east. Bright, star-like dogwood tree flowers illuminate newly re-greened deciduous forests or coniferous evergreen forests – they are heralds of the season and harbingers of warmth. Photo: Native to California foothill and mid-level mountain woodlands, the western dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) blooms near Nevada City into June.

Dogwood trees and shrubs comprise the genus Cornus in the plant family Cornaceae. There are more than 45 dogwood species which are native to North America and Eruasia. Dogwoods are primarily deciduous and highly valued by gardeners for their showy flowers (the most showy aspects of which are actually their bracts, not their petals), for their relatively small (15 – 25 feet at maturity) and graceful habits. After blooming, many dogwoods have attractive berries ranging from red to snow white and attractive foliage which can provide vibrant fall color. Many of the shrub dogwoods having striking brilliant red or yellow bark. Redtwig dogwood (Cornus sericea and Cornus alba) and yellow-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’) are among these, and they are planted for their jewel-toned winter interest. Photo: Native western dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) finishing its bloom near Forest Ranch in mid-May.

In the Dunsmuir area, the seasonal blooming of the woodland dogwood trees are cause for regional celebration, and one of the best places to both enjoy the woodland show and learn more is at the Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens. Photo: Native to California foothill and mid-level mountain woodlands, the western dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) ”flowers” are actually most notable for their showy bracts. The flower is the more diminutive cluster at the center of the structure.

Candace Miller is Lead Horticulturalist at the Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens in Dunsmuir. Candace spoke with In a North State Garden in October of 2010 about the gardens generally. This week she discusses the gardens’ wonderful collection of dogwoods – in bloom now! Photo: Candace Miller at the Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens in Dunsmuir.

“We have 4 species of dogwood trees,” Candace shares: “C. nuttallii which is the native western dogwood, C. kousa, C. sericea, a shrub dogwood, and C. florida, which is the native eastern dogwood; 2 hybrids C. x ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ and C. x ‘Venus’; and 1 groundcover variety: C. canadensis. There are many endemic native dogwoods in the gardens and about 17 other specimens of the varieties and hybrids throughout the gardens. The first non-native dogwoods were planted in the Gardens about 1995. I added the C. sericea and the hybrids in the last 2 years,” she finishes. Photo: Native to California foothill and mid-level mountain woodlands, the western dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) lights up North State spring woodlands.

“Dogwoods are appealing to me,” Candace writes, “because of their year-round interest: spring flowers, fruit, fall color and, in the case of C. sericea, beautiful red winter twigs. I hope visitors will enjoy learning more about dogwoods as they enjoy the Gardens’ setting during Dogwood Daze.” Photo: Bright fall color on dogwood foliage at the Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens.

Tours of the Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens’ dogwood collection- now in bloom – will be part of the upcoming Dunsmuir Dogwood Daze celebrations Saturday May 26, 2012. Botanical Gardens tours will be given every half hour from 1 to 3pm and led by Buck Lang. Photo: One of the several winter-interest redtwig dogwoods – this one Cornus alba siberica ‘Vinter’.

For more information on the Dogwood Daze festivities, please visit the Dunsmuir Chamber of Commerce website: http://dunsmuir.com/blog/2012/03/new-activities-2012-dogwood-daze/

Candace Miller is not only a horticulturalist but also a ceramic artist (you can see her creations throughout the Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens). She will be hosting an open art studio as another part of the Dogwood Daze. For more information: www.cmillerart.com. Photo: A large pink flowering dogwood brightens and lightens a Valley housefront in April.

Dogwoods may very well still be blooming to light the night sky at the Botanical Gardens annual evening concert event, Tribute to the Trees, June 23rd. For tickets and more information call: 530-235-4740.

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In a North State Garden is a weekly Northstate Public Radio and web-based program celebrating the art, craft and science of home gardening in Northern California. It is made possible in part by the Gateway Science Museum – Exploring the Natural History of the North State and on the campus of CSU, Chico. In a North State Garden is conceived, written, photographed and hosted by Jennifer Jewell – all rights reserved jewellgarden.com. In a North State Garden airs on Northstate Public Radio Saturday mornings at 7:34 AM Pacific time and Sunday morning at 8:34 AM Pacific time. Podcasts of past shows are available here.