Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’

Bloodtwig dogwood
CORNACEAE, The Dogwood family

This bright twigged dogwood is something I’ve seen in magazines a lot. I do love gardening magazines. BBC Gardens Illustrated is my favorite (though unaffordable). Garden Design is second, followed by Fine Gardening and then the Sunset and Better homes and Gardens specials (‘seventy pages of water gardens!’ and ‘decks and patios galore!’) that are all photos. I also get a lot out of the British magazine Permaculture, which is in another category than the aforementioned design magazines, but offers a very welcome and divergent perspective.

‘Midwinter Fire’ dogwood is a newer introduction, sometimes referred to as ‘Winter Flame’ or ‘Winter Beauty’. The twigs are dark red at one end and fade to pale orange at the other. It seems more compact (4 feet tall and wide) than other colorful dogwoods, like the native red-twigged dogwood (Cornus sericea) or the chartreuse ‘Flavamira’. They both have white flowers and berries and yellow fall color. ‘Isanti’ is smaller, growing to around 5 feet tall, and ‘Kelseyi’ is a dwarf, growing to 2 feet. They all like sun to partial shade in average to moist soil. All of these are hardy to USDA zone 3 or 4.

The secret to keeping these types of shrubs looking their best is to keep the wood young. That is, each year remove up to a third of the branches. Choose the oldest stems and cut them out near the ground. This way new, brightly colored shoots will come up. Also prune out crossing branches, spindly stems or damaged wood. Dogwoods should never be sheared.

The white flowers that bloom early in the spring provide nectar for bees and butterflies. The berries are good for birds.

About Mulysa

I love my work as a landscape designer and artist. When I'm not planning homesteads or working in the studio, you'll find me hiking, photographing, gardening, baking, cooking vegetarian meals with friends, reading and working on sustainability issues...with my baby on my hip in Portland, Oregon.
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