How about growing this: Grey dogwood


This is what grey dogwood (Cornus sericea) looks like right now in my garden–shrubs covered with bright red stems that held abundant greyish-white fruit less than a week ago. The second the berries ripen, the birds eat them. This is what the shrubs looked like as the fruit was ripening, about a week ago:

Fruits of grey dogwood (Cornus racemosa)

And this is what the fragrant flowers looked like in early June:

Flower cluster of grey dogwood (Cornus racemosa), the loveliest dogwood of all.

Seriously, why aren’t you growing this gorgeous member of the dogwood genus? Cornus sericea is naturally found in sunny wet places, often in company with arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum). If you visit the Celery Farm preserve in Allendale, NJ, you will see the two growing together in the wetland area.Grey dogwood is also plentiful along the stream in the new FairLawn Arboretum. My site is anything but wet (dry, dry, sandy soil), but both these shrubs do extremely well for me along an east-facing brick wall. They seem to do well in every situation from full sun to almost complete shade.

Grey dogwood will grow up to 12′ tall and 3 wide. It spreads quite enthusiastically by means of rhizomes, but it’s easy to keep it shorter and smaller by removing the largest stems each year or so. About every two years, I cut thin out the largest shrubs, either in the winter or just after the fruit ripens and disappears. I also frequently dig out small shrubs in spring and give them away.

In addition to their beautiful flowers and fruit, these plants have the lovely dark-red fall color common to dogwoods. They are well worth growing both for their ornamental value and for their value to wildlife.



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