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Fire in the Snow: Dogwood Shrubs That Illuminate.

Every morning as I drive out of my neighborhood, I pass by a home so modest that it is barely noticed. However, in autumn and in winter, this house stands out among all of the others and no one can escape looking at it. In fall, all of its foundation shrubs are afire with autumn coloration and in winter, the branches glow in the snow in shades of yellow, orange, and red. The seasoned gardener will understand that this well thought-out landscape is supposed to be eye catching when nothing else is.

Here are a few suggestions for Dogwood shrubs that do double duty when the colors of summer have gone. It is never too early to plan for next season. The white snow of winter should be an inspiration to do the research now. Try and imagine how colored branches might look when contrasted against white snow on your property.

Cornus sericea Arctic Fire.

Dark green foliage turns wine red in autumn.

Bare branches are red.

3 to 4 feet high by 4 to 5 feet wide.

Zone 3 to 7.

Full sun to part shade.


Cornus sanguinea Arctic Sun.

Green leaves turn yellow towards autumn finally turning peachy orange.

Bare branches are yellow tipped with red.

Zone 4 to 7.

3 to 4 feet tall by 3 to 5 feet wide.

Sun to part shade.


Cornus sanguinea Winter Beauty.

Green leaves turn orange yellow in autumn.

Bare branches are red tipped orange-yellow

4 to 8 feet tall by 6 to 15 feet wide.

Zones 4a to 8b, sun to partial shade.


Cornus sanguinea Mid Winter Fire.

Green leaves turn red-gold in autumn.

Bare branches shaded from yellow through orange to red.

8 to 10 feet high by 10 feet wide.

Zone 4a to 8b.

Sun to part shade but stems are fierier in sun.


Cornus alba Sibirica.

Grey-green leaves with little white margins becoming carmine red in autumn.

Bare branches are bright coral-red

8 feet tall and wide.

Zone 2 to 10.

Sun to part shade.


Cornus stolonifera Flaviramea.

Green leaves turn orange and red in the fall. Young bare branches are yellow in winter.

Zone 2 to 10.  9 feet tall and wide.

Full sun to full shade.

Notice that the photos represent mostly mature shrubs with dense growth. In their early years, some Dogwood shrubs may have many open spaces between the branches. Consider growing evergreen shrubs behind them as an enhancement. An ideal composition might include a yellow branched Dogwood, flanked on one side by a red branched shrub and on the other side, by one that is orange.

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Reader Comments (3)

Allan, you have given me a new appreciation of the Dogwoods! I can't wait to talk to my daughter and tell her to leave those red twigs where they are (covering an electrical box in the back of her yard). We can rejuvinate them this spring,


January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEileen

'Arctic Fire' has grown very fast for me, but I did not know it got so wide. I have a line of 9 on my curved sidewalk, and I fear they are much too close now. I've wante to try 'Arctic Sun' for some time so maybe I will. Have you tried it? Looks like a candy stick.

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBenjamin

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. The only Cornus sanquinea I see where I live is 'Midwinter Fire', but I have read about others and wondered what the differences were. Now, you've shown me. Thank you again.

January 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDeirdre

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