Wondering About Winter
Let red twig dogwood brighten up those months
With autumn’s arrival, it’s easy for gardeners to feel a little melancholy. Many of our favorite summer plants have withdrawn for the year, and every morning is a little chillier than the last. One thing is certain; winter is just around the corner. But that doesn’t need to signal a long, dry spell for your inner gardener. Winter is full of garden wonders all its own.
While many plants do their best in warmer months, there are some who add something to the garden every month of the year. For some, winter is their time to shine — even surrounded by snow. Red twig dogwood is one of those plants. It’s been around for along while, but there are constantly new varieties being selected to give it a fresh face. Variegated foliage, dwarf size — but it’s the foundation, under the fluff, that keep gardeners coming back for more.
Red Twig Dogwood | Down to the Basics
Hardy in USDA zones 3 through 8, redtwig is a tough plant that can tolerate cold and wet. Native to marshy areas, it’s perfect for those spots in the yard where moisture tends to accumulate through the year. Though it can be kept small, standard redtwig reaches 6 to 10 feet high and wide in the landscape. If you have the room, plant more than one. In late spring, you’re treated to showy white flowers. Summer brings porcelain-blue berries that almost outshine the blooms. Birds and butterflies love the plant. In fall, the foliage turns a spectacular reddish purple. For many plants, three-season interest would be enough. With red twig dogwood, in many ways, the best is still to come.
When winter hits, whether snow comes or not, the landscape can look fairly bleak. This is when red twig steps up with brilliant red stems that give the plant its name. Year-round, they’re a nice burgundy color, but in winter the red grows more intense. Young stems start to blaze with color. Against snow and grey skies, it’s a show that brightens the entire season. You can add to the drama every year by pruning out up to one-fourth of the old stems to stimulate plenty of the vibrant new growth. Planted with yellow twig dogwood, the combination is even more satisfying.
Bring the Garden Inside
While red twig looks great in the garden all winter, don’t just leave it outside. The stems are perfect for brightening up the home, especially at Christmas time. Cut red twig stems to add touches of color all throughout the house. Pieces of stems make perfect accents for wreaths and arrangements. Use twigs to support a flowering white orchid, and bring color at the same time. If you like to force paperwhite bulbs into bloom (if you don’t, you should. It’s easy!), intersperse red twig stems with the paperwhite foliage to provide support. Then tie a ribbon and bow around the arrangement’s waist. The red twigs will keep your paperwhites from drooping and add an elegant touch to the whole thing.
If you don’t already have red twig dogwood in your garden, there may still be time. If not, add it to the list for spring planting. It’s one of those plants that has something to offer month of the year. If it’s already in your garden, take a minute to look outside. It should bring a smile to your face.