Dogwood down

dogwoodDogwood is a common shrub in the British Isles and we have one in our garden. It looks best in late winter, when its deep purple-red branches stand out vividly against the snow and frost.

But the seasons don’t stand still, and neither must gardeners. Already the dogwood is sprouting tiny new buds and leaves, and soon those red branches will be hidden beneath a layer of green.


If you want to ensure a good growth of bright red branches next winter, you must be brutal. The branches have this intense colour during their first year only, and so we must reach for the garden tools and prepare for ruthless action.


Dogwood has nothing to do with dogs. Dag is the Old English word for spear, and may have Viking origins. Think of the English word dagger.

The best thing about cutting back the dogwood is that once the job is done, you can use those straight, fiery branches for their intended purpose.


20 responses to “Dogwood down

  1. Thanks for reminding me that its time to get back out in the garden! I see a good few days of hard work lying ahead but the end result always makes it worthwhile. It just doesn’t seem so when you’re nursing a sore back and aching knees.

    • The weather has warmed up a lot in the past few weeks, although in our part of the world (Oxfordshire) everything is about a month behind schedule this year (despite the met office insisting that this was the warmest winter on record.)

  2. Still waiting here for my garden to wake up. The first to show signs is the rhubarb. Nothing yet. It won’t be long.

    You were merciless with the clippers. 😯

  3. Such a pretty plant! You got to do what you go to do Steve. The last time I held scissors in my hand to cut the plants, I had to be strong and do it. A family friend couldn’t take it. :/

  4. I would have had a hard time cutting those gorgeous red branches! But I suppose if you get blood-colored spears to play with, that might soften the blow, so to speak.

  5. Neat! That’s a gorgeous and apparently extremely useful shrub, and a very cool name. I grew up with “Dogwood” trees of a different kind; mine were flowering trees. Are they related at all?

  6. Those colors are so striking — hard to believe they’re not Photoshopped! Beautiful! 2. Could it be related to the old Germanic “Dag” for “day”? Do these trees do anything in a day? 3. Is that handsome young Viking your son?

    • My knowledge of old German is rather limited, to say the least. I’m not aware that they do anything in a day. And yes, that’s my ten-year old son. He authorised use of the photo for this blog article, even though he thinks it’s a boring article and no one will want to read it. Who needs critics when you have kids?

  7. I’ve got one out front here that’s turned into a Triffid and has begun taking over Somerset with its all-pervading runners. It should reach Oxford by next Autumn – you have been warned Steve.

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