Flowering dogwood, or Cornus florida, is a small to medium sized deciduous tree that will grow from 15 to 30 feet in height with similar spread. It has a flat to rounded crown with lightly-limbed branching in layered tiers that never overwhelms adjacent plantings or structures. Flowering dogwood blooms in the spring for 2 to 3 weeks. Interestingly, the “flowers” are actually bracts. There are four of them and are usually white though pinks and reds are becoming more popular and they put on an impressive Spring display. But once the petals, or bracts, have dropped, Dogwood becomes almost invisible for the summer, that is, until the weather cools. At that time its simple leaves turn brilliant shades of red and gold, followed, in winter, by clusters of pretty red fruit, providing a solid three seasons of interest. And the fruit is a favorite of wild-life adding usefulness to beauty. This is, arguably, North America’s most elegant native tree. One might suppose little could be added to improve such an ideal specimen and yet, at the risk of gilding the lily, there is a dramatic variety called ‘Purple Glory’. Purple Glory dogwood features red-bracted flowers  which are quite eye-catching in spring. But what really sets this new variety apart is the foliage. In spring the leaves emerge light purple and with the seasons' progression deepen to a dramatic deep, dark purple which holds up even in full sun. And Purple Glory dogwood is somewhat more diminutive, only reaching 20 feet with a slightly greater spread. And like the basic species, it thrives in loose, fertile, slightly acidic soil in partial shade.

Whether one prefers the quiet sophistication of the basic Flowering dogwood or the drama of the Purple Glory dogwood, both are worthy of a place in the garden. Although Purple Glory dogwood was a chance seedling discovered in the United States, it has become quite popular in the UK and is well suited to temperate Australia and New Zealand.

Another dramatic dogwood cultivar is Autumn Gold dogwood, or Cornus florida 'Autumn Gold'.

Purple Glory dogwood


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