Tuesday 4 December 2012

Pruning Dogwoods

I decided last weekend that my collection of Cornus (Dogwood) shrubs needed tidying up.I pruned them all very hard in the Spring and during the Summer they put on a lot of new growth, but much of it was very higgledy-piggledy, growing in all sorts of silly directions (mostly downwards!), and the border was looking a right mess.

I'll show you a couple of close-ups of the "Before" situation.  Exhibit 'A'...

Exhibit 'B'...

A lot of the droopy, downward-growing shoots had touched the soil and begun to root. Presumably this is one of the Dogwood's normal methods of propagation.

Ready-rooted cuttings!
Using my heavy-duty loppers for the big bits and my secateurs for the smaller ones, I removed all the stray branches, leaving only the best of the upward-pointing ones. This meant removing about two thirds of everything! This is Exhibit 'A' in its "After" state. Much neater, I think you'll agree.

Likewise, Exhibit 'B' after its operation:

I think that what this will do is allow the shrubs to put most of their energy into a smaller number of better branches. This should hopefully pay dividends in the Spring when new growth begins to appear once more.

Only a very small number of the cuttings I planted in the Spring had taken root - which is just as well I suppose, since I do already have plenty of Dogwoods!

Spring-planted cutting now rooted
 My Cornus Alba "Kesselringii" - the one with the very dark-coloured stems - got a bit of a tidy-up too, but it is already quite a nice shape, with lots of upward-pointing stems.

So now the shrub border is looking a lot neater. You won't be able to make this out in my photo, but there are actually six different Dogwood varieties in that bed, and another elsewhere.

I have the following varieties:-
1. Cornus Alba "Kesselringii"  - very dark, almost black, stems, bronzey-green leaves
2. Cornus Alba "Aurea" - red stems, yellowy-green leaves (Exhibit 'B' above)
3. Cornus Alba "Gouchaultii" - red stems, variegated green-and-cream leaves
4. Cornus Sericea "Cardinal" - red, orange and yellow stems, plain green leaves
5. Cornus Alba unknown - greenish-yellow stems, green leaves (Exhibit 'A' above)
6 Cornus Alba unknown (nicknamed "Milton Keynesii") - red stems, green leaves
7. Cornus Sanguinea "Midwinter Fire" - red/orange/yellow stems, golden leaves

You might think that caring for Dogwoods seems like a lot of trouble, but I disagree: a few hours of pruning each year, and you are rewarded with THIS:-

"Midwinter Fire" in November

and THIS:-

"Milton Keynesii" (a nickname only, please note)


  1. Great job - easy when you have the right tools. I am sure they will look great next summer.

  2. They look great. I actually think dogwoods are one of the easiest shrubs to prune. Your unidentified ones could be: Cornus sericea 'Flaviramea' and Cornus alba 'Siberica'.

  3. That really does look a lot better Mark.

  4. Very nice. I need to trim my hazelnuts a bit more. I trimmed the out of the driveway but need to trim one of them off of the plum tree seedling so it won't keep growing crooked.

  5. Regarding the photo "Spring planted cutting now rooted"...Mark, my experience is, as in that photo, when I have cut the main center bit off, the side shoots go all higgly piggly, down and out and messy. So I don't do that too often, unless I must.

    As for rooting..well goodness, dogwood just love love love to root. All those little nodules along the stems..just waiting for opportunity.

    I love this plant. Right now, I have lots of fresh cut branches looking great in my outside holiday arrangements. They often root there as does curly willow. And, when I do prune my dogwoods, I pick the best, and push the stems into the damp ground. You can make a mighty fast, thick and beautiful hedge this way.

    Don't have the wonderful variety you have but you sure could propagate a lot of plants from your trimmings. Yours have beautiful color and, as always, great photography!

  6. They look much tidier now. Dogwoods must be easy to propagate, it looks as though they do all the work themselves.

  7. Always something to do in the garden! The branches are quite lovely.


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