Flowering dogwoods are another of my favorite springtime trees, along with flowering cherry trees and red buds. And maples. And magnolias. And… And… And…
Aw, shoot; let’s be honest here — if it blooms and is even remotely attractive to look at, it’s in my list of favorites.
I used to think that spring was my single-most favorite time of the year, but the truth is that I like them all… I enjoy the constant, subtle changes and transitions that we go through during the course of 12 months.
But… getting back to spring, I always associate flowering dogwoods with Easter. Why? Because that’s when I formally noticed them for the first time.
I’m certain that I was exposed to dogwoods repeatedly when I was younger (my mother worked as a florist and is still one of the most authoritative plant and garden enthusiasts I know), but they just never caught my eye until we took the train for a week-long trip to visit some family members in Richmond, Virginia, over our Easter school break back in the early 1970’s. During that stay, I was floored by the stunning clouds of immense displays of flowering dogwoods.
Stark white. Subtle creams. Faint pastels. Vibrant pinks. It was a feast for the eyes.
Flowering dogwoods are the Virginia state tree and flower, and they are present in huge stands all over the commonwealth; the residents take them very seriously there, so if you ever want to be utterly overwhelmed by dogwoods blooming as far as the eye can see — head to Virginia around Easter.
I was also charmed by the Christian story of the dogwood that I was told during this time as well, which you can read about here.
After that over-the-top experience I always looked forward to Easter, just to see the flowering dogwoods put on their show.
On a sadder note, above is what our local saucer magnolias look like. Normally they are awash in vibrant pink and white blossoms, but the late winter weather killed the blooms (the brown pods visible in the out-of-focus areas). I don’t know if these greener pods in the foreground are a second attempt at blossoms, or whether they are just early leaves that are in the process of emerging. Time will tell.
We also have a southern magnolia (magnolia grandiflora) nearby, but it’s many weeks from blooming yet.
And then we have the bright pink flowering cherry trees, or at least I think that’s what they are. So even with the disastrous wintry mix that hit them a couple of weeks ago, the later bloomers seem to be largely okay. It’s not clear in the image below, but there are dead patches all over the tree from the hard freeze it went through; roughly 20 to 30 percent of the tree is brown.
I’m sure you have some favorites during this time of year, what are they for you?