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Plants for Winter Interest – Cornus Alba

We must admit, when seeking plants to splash colour through our winter gardens it’s always nice to see the odd deciduous plant. Here we’ll be talking about Cornus alba, commonly known as the ‘red bark dogwood’.

If the name didn’t clue you in, Cornus alba is noted for the vibrant red stem colouring it displays every winter. As can be seen in the featured image, at its best the red is so showy to seem almost lit up, making for an invigorating and unusual sight in an otherwise sparse garden. The plant has some merit during the rest of the year, with dark green leaves surrounding new clusters of tiny white flowers during late spring. In early autumn blueish-white berries start to appear, and are perfectly edible both for yourself and local birds.

Optimising the plant for winter interest means minimising these other features, however. The bark is reddest on the previous summer’s growth, rapidly darkening for the spring. The plant requires minimum effort to keep, though if you want to see impressive colouring you’ll need to prune down the older branches thoroughly at the start of each spring, aside from the first year. Cornus alba is vigorous, so it’ll fill back out quite quickly.

As far as placement is concerned, just make sure it enjoys moist soil in a sunny site, these factors maximise the red appearance of new growth. It functions well enough as a lone specimen, but grouping it with a number of others can produce colourful, if not especially dense, winter hedging.

Cornus alba is an attractive plant with unique winter interest. We recommend it highly, so be sure to consider it when you’re planning for a new winter garden.

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