Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Siberian dogwood for a Siberian winter

The challenge I set myself this year was each day to find a new plant flowering in our garden or in the surrounding countryside of East Clare and talk about it. And here I am on day 3 and I've already run out of plants in flower.

We get used to blaming the weather for lots of things in Ireland - usually because it's raining. But with the warm (ha ha) waters of the Atlantic bathing our coasts we aren't usually troubled by extreme cold. But here we are three weeks into a spell where temperatures have rarely risen above freezing point.

Just a month ago we were stunned to see a narcissus in flower (it was actually December 10). We should have realised it meant that this was going to be no ordinary winter. And so it's proving to be. Who says climate change is a myth.

Dwarf narcissus in flower on December 10 2009

The upshot for this blog is that I come to a grinding halt .... or I change the rules a bit.

So today's plant, the appropriately named Siberian dogwood, is offered for the beauty, not of its flowers, but its stems. And what a stunning display it's making this year. The one we have is a selection with particularly vivid red stems - Cornus alba 'Sibirica'.

Siberian dogwood on January 3

This cultivar also has strong green foliage that turns a deep red in the autumn so you get the benefit of autumn as well as winter colour. It loves wet ground - so it loves Ireland - and it propagates itself by layers. In the photograph above, the main plant is to the left and the collection of shoots in the middle is a new plant produced from a shoot laying on the ground and rooting. We've already moved a number of clumps to other parts of land where we want to introduce some winter colour.

You can just as easily stick some of the prunings in the ground or in pots in the early spring and they're pretty well guaranteed to root. Mind you, the way this year's going I should be very wary about saying that anything's a certainty.


lakeviewer said...

Thanks for visiting me. Now, I get to enjoy these beautiful sights of yours.

DK Leather said...

gosh, I love Dogwood, so vibrant and fiery red. Good idea :D

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

The weather has been all of kilter everywhere lately. Sorry you are having a cold winter so far. Our summer was even a cool one here in my state which was strange and my garden did not like it one bit.
What a fantastic dogwood with the red stems for winter color.

Anonymous said...

I've never grown the red-twigged dogwood myself, but I've seen it in's a head-turning display. I suppose you have to do a great deal of pruning to get it to look so striking.

I also like your narcissus and the depth of field in that photo. Very nice.

Twisted willow said...

Thanks for coming by lakeviewer.
It's surprisingly vibrant isn't it DK.
Nice to see you here HH Gardener. I feel bad complaining about the weather as everyone seems to be experiencing problems of one kind or another.
Thanks for looking in Mary Anne. Just needs to be cut hard back to get the new growth. I'm afriad I can't claim credit for the narcissus photo. That's the work of my wife. Her blog is


My understanding is that there is an anomaly in the Gulf Stream now that may be the cause of so much Arctic air being allowed to penetrate as far south as Scotland and Ireland and the south of England.

If Global Warming continues and actually stops the Gulf Stream by so much Arctic melt water flowing south, there will be really difficult times ahead.

So we all need to concentrate on thinking warm thoughts and being convinced that this extra chill is just a passing fancy of Mother Earth.

Warm thoughts.... flowers blooming in January... new plant growth in February.