Few plants offer as much year-round interest as our January plant of the month. With lush green leaf in spring, through to interesting large white or cream flowers in summer, a blue or black autumn berry, and finally stunning yellow, orange or red bare stems through winter, Dogwood always has something going on. With most varieties of Cornus it is the winter colour that really elevates the plant to super-star status. The red stem varieties such as Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ seem almost incandescent in the low light levels of the season, glowing against a dull green backdrop. While Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ has wonderful colour changes down each stem, from deep red through orange to yellow, in fiery shades. The common name, Dogwood, is thought to derive from the old English ‘dagwood’, and its use for making ‘dags’ which were hard, sharp wooden objects such as daggers, skewers or arrows.
Working well in a mixed border, or as a stand-alone shrub, Cornus is worthy of a prime spot in the garden. It is fully hardy, low maintenance, and grows well in clay soils, making it a perfect London garden plant. It likes moist conditions too, so is a good option for any troublesome damp areas in the garden. The best stem colour is always from the juvenile growth, so cut back every year (March to mid-April) for a stunning winter show. It prefers acid to neutral soils, so a John Innes compost (or even a bit of ericaceous) should be added when planting.
Common Name: Dogwood
Botanical Name: Cornus
Flowering Time: Summer (Autumn berry and Winter stem colour)
Height and Spread: 2.5m-2.5m (can be kept smaller)
Aspect: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Hardiness: Fully Hardy