Pink Dogwood Winter

The cold snap is coming. The weatherman has moved the date of the most severely cold night to be tonight, after the winds have blown themselves to the east and the clouds have gone with the wind. Still cloudless nights are capable of deep descents in temps. Around here this mid April cold spell is referred to as the Dogwood Winter.
We have lots of dogwood trees. Pink ones dot the hill behind out house. Seedlings of a pink dogwood from our old house in Northeast Tennessee were planted in 1996 and are of good blooming size now along the side and front of the property. Some years their blooms seem to have some pink to the petals, this is one of those years. Several native white ones are blooming under the large pine trees at the curbside edge. More pinks have been added at the garage side and under the pines.

Same view, with the macro mode on the closest blossoms. I really like the cloud formations in both shots, and the trees in the distance showing the new green of spring on their tips. I like the hazy pink of the background trees, like pink clouds. The top of the hill offers horizon views over the roof. There is a bench in the knot garden that is perfect for appreciating those views and feeling like we are on top of the world, or at least of our neighborhood.

From the hill behind the garage looking across the big hill. Fothergilla is beginning its show to the left of the pinks. The dianthus lining the paths is budded, soon to be a sea of pink as well. The white hellebores in the fore are still holding their flowers, swollen with pollinated seed, ready to be dropped to give us even more hellebore babies.

Not a vision in pink, one of the home made hypertufa planters was filled with blue tinged tender succulents much too early and must be mummified to withstand the below freezing temps. This frost fabric has done its name proud, covering tomatoes foolishly planted out too early last year enough to protect them from the temperature drop into the teens then. It is beginning to shred, but several layers wrapped around the pot may do the trick again this time.

An upturned clay pot over a small fig tree and another giant spider web covering the newly planted lantana and sweet potato vine.

Some years the dogwoods have sparse numbers of flowers. Some say that sparseness is caused by too much rain the summer before. We had a severe drought, still do in fact, last summer. Does that explain the extraordinary number of blooms on every tree?

Not a dogwood, but just as colorful, the Japanese maples are fully leafed out in their spring high intensity shades. This is Crimson Queen. The leaves turn a more dull red as the season progresses, then give another eye popping show in the fall. Too much cold will burn these young leaves into the color of oatmeal.

One of the newer J. maples, ‘Peaches ‘N Cream’. I see a couple of leaves are reverting, while pretty, they will be removed. But every leaf is needed on this small tree, as shown in the photo below.

Before last year’s frost, this tree was three times this size. The dead parts were pruned away after that. It looks like another whole branch is dead, on the right side. That this tree was not lost is something we remain extremely thankful for, but maybe a little of the spidery cloth should go on this as well. We are running out of living stems. The weather has been cool, good for the flowers that are open. Some tulips are still looking fresh, the dogwoods are in their prime, even a few late daffodils are pristine. My treasured deciduous azaleas are in full bud. I want to show you the spectacle they present in bloom, without damage from frost. What is wanted may not be what is given by the gods of the winters. We shall see what their whims are this time, benign or malignant.

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50 Responses to Pink Dogwood Winter

  1. Milla says:

    that’s annoying, I left a comment which BLogger couldn’t deal with – just to say thanks for calling by and that I love your pictures, particularly the one of the tree in the garden, but all of them really, and am going to take a look down through old ones too, as can just see the tantalising headline, Tree Peony – never had much success with them.

  2. tina says:

    Lovely, lovely garden. Beautiful dogwoods. I think you may be right about the buds of the dogwoods. Maybe they were worried last year of their survival so they put forth tons of buds to produce seed and hopefully carry on their lineage? I know, it would mean they think, maybe not think but act logically. Just my opinion. Have a great day and stay warm! I CAN’T believe it again a Freeze!!!

  3. Milla says:

    COR! Glad I did, glide down, I mean. Am feeling dizzy and vaguely lustful after that tree peony and those hostas. Ah, swoon. GORGEOUS.

  4. Frances, says:

    Milla, thanks and so very glad to see you made it here. Blogger is acting weird, again, hope it gets itself in order soon. I have never heard or seen the phrase ‘cor’ before. What is its meaning?

    Tina, your comment got lost on the tree peony post, and was just now found. I have doubts about blogger today, must be careful. I think the trees do have a mechanism for reproducing during times of stress. Hope that means more berries on the winterberry hollies, last year we had none. Let’s think our warmest thoughts.

  5. Entangled says:

    Hmmm, I was going to blame the drought for the lack of dogwood flowers on one of our trees, but it looks like I need to find another excuse. They’re just starting to bloom in central Virginia.

  6. Phillip says:

    Very beautiful. My dogwoods and Japanese maples are really pretty right now too. I’m anxious about tonights temps – why does this always seem to happen? It is very frustrating.

  7. Lee says:

    frances, your garden is beautiful! nice to have met you too and ride around Austin together. if i’d have known you were a phish fan…those were the days…

  8. Nancy J. Bond says:

    Everything in your garden is so, so lovely.

  9. Frances, says:

    Entangled, the drought has outright killed some of the dogwoods, here, older ones mostly. It must be a fine line between loads of blooms and death! If your leafs out, all is well, better luck another year.

    Phillip, it does always happen, I guess the best thing to do is just accept it and even anticipate it will happen. My motto is ‘expect the worst, you will never be disappointed’.

    Lee, welcome, and thanks for visiting. Ah, Phish. We saw them only once live, at The Woodlands pavilion when we lived there. Great atmosphere and show.

    Nancy J., thanks for the kind words.

  10. brokenbeat says:

    *preparing the empty pots and topping rocks, sheets from goodwill, thick plastic, and another cup of coffee. every time a gale blows by, i look menacingly up to the sky still muttering joni, occasionally forcing my toes to tap. having covered everything i could i stop to stare at the protected yard and all my little plant wigwams and pueblos.*

    i feel so damn botanically paternal right now.

  11. karen says:

    “Cor blimey,” British phrase meaning “Wow,” possibly in Cockney dialect! Love the photo with the hellebores. Wish we could grow them here but they are not happy. You are one fine, hard-working, energetic gardener. Your garden is simply gorgeous.

    I love Japanese maples and I have only 2 varieties because all the books say they don’t do well in Zone 9, but I think I’m going to get more varieties because I have not seen them looking unhappy in our area.

  12. Layanee says:

    Stressed trees often throw out an abundance of flowers I have found. Very beautiful pictures of the pink haze! I hope your flowers and leaves weather the cold with little damage!

  13. Frances, says:

    brokenbeat, the Joni you tube brought tears, goosebumps and a happy heart, many thanks. Whatever damage is done, will be taken in stride with creatures like Joni in our mind’s eye and ears.

    Karen, great, thanks for that translation! Sorry about your hellebores, but hopeful about the maples. Good luck with them. Hard working is true enough, feeling stiff and sore after a week of hard core pruning, time for a break.

    Layanee, I think you are correct about that, but hope it doesn’t mean the loss of even more trees. Thanks for the good thoughts.

  14. Jean says:

    Phish? Wow!! I would not have figured you, Frances, as a Phish fan. You go girl! They have an outside concert every year way up north in Maine. Or they used to but not sure about the last couple of years as too many people put up such a fuss about it. Always rotten apples among the beauties.

    Here is wishing warm thought!

  15. Pam/Digging says:

    I hope you avoid a late frost. Those are frustrating. However, your dogwoods are beautiful today. I miss seeing them since we left the Carolinas. We used to have several white ones and one pink one at our Raleigh house, planted by a former owner who had obviously been a devoted gardener.

  16. Dee/reddirtramblings says:

    Frances, I hope your cold spell wasn’t too deep or too long. We were at 32 degrees this a.m., but jumped up pretty quickly. I need to go uncover my foolish purchases, a Mandevilla and a purple elephant ear. I’ll never learn.

    Your photos were beautiful as always.

    Don’t tell your husband I called him an Okie. Oops! I forgot he was from PA.~~Dee

  17. Frances, says:

    Jean, HA, it just goes to show the many layers that make up each of us. I know Phish has had its ups and downs, not even sure if they are still together as a group, but that doesn’t affect their recorded music, always a pleasure to the senses.

    Pam, thanks for the good wishes. There are many mature dogwoods in our neighborhood, planted by the homeowners when these houses were new. Many are in the December of their lives, with awkwardly broken limbs, still throwing their blooms out in pinks and white. I would miss them desperately if we could not have them.

    Dee, The financier does have a sense of humor, but will never refer to himself as an Okie! But you can call me that and I will stand up and sing a chorus of Oklahoma for you any time. Glad to hear your frost danger is over, hope ours will be done by tomorrow morning so things can be uncovered here also.

  18. Lori says:

    Your spring garden is so incredibly magical that I find myself coming back and looking at your pictures again and again. That Yoshino cherry! The dogwoods! My poor redbud didn’t even bloom this spring.

  19. Dave says:


    Your garden is really coming alive! The dogwoods look great and I can’t wait to see the hillside as more plants come into season. Great pictures!

  20. ourfriendben says:

    Your dogwoods are just thrilling, Frances! I love them and have missed them so–finally found a white one that was more like a wildling and planted it last year, but of course it’s not yet in bloom. (After reading Lori’s comment, I’m looking a bit nervously at my redbuds, too.) And one can never have too many Japanese maples! I keep trying to find room for just one (or two or three or…) more…

  21. Catherine says:

    Frances, all very beautiful!! Your Garden is awakening beautifully! 🙂
    Suppose to be in the low 30’s here in Va. tonight! Hope you don’t get a frost, and I hope you & your plants stay nice and cozy and warm!

  22. Frances, says:

    Lori, thanks, and so sorry about your redbud. I know how disappointing it is when the plants don’t bloom. It will be better next year.

    Dave, thanks. The big show will be when the exbury azaleas and dianthus are open. Hope the ajuga stays open too for that touch of blue.

    Elly, thanks. I agree, there is always room for more J. maples, luckily they are small and I need to have dogwoods in my life!

    Cat, thanks. We are trying to stay warm for the next couple of days. I am anxious to get planting with all the new plants I bought to go into the containers with the newly found expertise from the gang at Gardening Gone Wild’s design workshop.

  23. Zoë says:

    Wonderful photos, I love the Cornus – do you know which one it is so I can locate it over here?


  24. Frances, says:

    Zoe, all the dogwoods here are C. floridus, both pinks and whites. There is an issue with anthracnose getting them, but we have been spared so far. Hope you can find some.

  25. Mr. McGregor's Daughter says:

    Wow, your Dogwoods are so beautiful! I wish we could grow Cornus florida here, but we’re pretty much limited to C. kousa & the hybrids.

  26. Amy says:

    So many lovely photos, but I’m especially inspired by the photo of your hill. My yard is practically nothing but slopes. If I could I would take that photo and stick it up by my computer to keep me encouraged!

  27. Frances, says:

    MMD, the kousas are lovely too, just bloom a little later, don’t they?

    Amy, thanks. Feel free to print it out, just save it to your photo program and print away!

  28. Blackswamp_Girl says:

    Am trying to send you some frost-protective thoughts, Frances!

    In the meantime, WOW on those dogwoods. And I’ve never seen anything as lovely as that peaches ‘n cream Japanese maple.

  29. Jean Ann says:

    Frances, those colors are absolutely delish! I love the fuscia in the dogwood and what a magnificent japanese maple (peaches n cream)…are you kidding me? DREAMY!

  30. Frances, says:

    Kim, many thanks for your powerful good thoughts. People sometimes underestimate what really focused thoughts can accomplish. That peaches n cream was a beauty before being decimated last year. I hope it makes a comeback, maybe some extra water this year. It was fairly expensive and I love the coloration as well.

    Jean Ann, thanks, we are having a good pinky year with the dogwoods, good color and as far as peaches n cream, see the above reply. I want it to live!

  31. Annie in Austin says:

    Hi Frances,

    There’s no way to comment on this post without sticking the word ‘lovely’ in there somewhere! I have no dogwood memories of my own, just read about them and have seen a few Kousas in bloom here and there. Your words and photos make me see why people are so enthralled with them. Hope the weather is kind to you!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  32. kate smudges says:

    Hi Frances,

    I love the pink dogwood flowers. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than a few flowers on most dogwoods so this was a treat.

    Your Crimson Queen Japanese Maple is spectacular – even in a duller red, the leaves would be attractive.

    I love the photograph looking across the big hill. Your garden looks magical. I will be checking back to see the Dianthus in bloom – one of my favourite flowers.

    May the white spiderweb cloths keep the frost from doing too much damage … and may some clouds stay in the sky and protect your garden from frost. Nasty stuff at this time of year. Brokenbeat sounds like a protective papa!

  33. Nancy says:

    We’re going to get down in the 30’s here in Houston too… but no danger of freezing. And tomorrow it will be back up in the 70’s again…….

  34. Diana says:

    Frances – Blogger is being temperamental, but after several attempts it let me in. Whew. Becaust I REALLY wanted to comment. Your dogwoods are so amazing. And it looks as though you must have climbed a tree to get some of those shots! The peaches and cream maple took my breath away, as did you little delicate hostas. I’m crossing my fingers that these frost warnings are just chicken little.

  35. Frances, says:

    Annie, thanks for the good wishes. This morning the weatherman says there will be frost before the sun rises, but light. Hooray. We do love the dogwoods, wish you could see them in person.

    Kate, thanks for visiting. I’m glad you love dianthus, they really have a lot to offer with that eversilver foliage, even not in bloom. Brokenbeat is an all or nothing kind of guy, and he has been bitten by the gardening buy hard.

    Nancy, wow, that is really cold for Houston. Hope nothing gets damaged.

    Diana, thanks for perservering, blogger gave me a start this morning, but then relented and let me in to post my bloom day post, thank goodness. My tree climbing days are over, but climbing the hill without falling down it is a similar experience. I just bought that little hosta called blue mouse ears, the leaves are the size of a nickel! Must find a place to showcase it well, so tiny. Peaches ‘n Cream needs to be covered, they are calling for cold again tonight.

  36. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Your dogwoods are so pretty Frances. I hope this last frost doesn’t do any more damage to your maple either. It is so unusual. YOu have such a good collection of Japanese maples.

  37. Frances, says:

    Lisa, thanks. We did have twice as many of those special maples, half were killed by the frost last year. They are all grafted trees, I think that makes them more susceptible to the cold.

  38. garden girl says:

    Frances, your garden is awesome! I love the dogwoods, and that Japanese Maple is delicious!

  39. Frances, says:

    Linda, thanks. We were spared by the frost, nothing was damaged that I can tell. hooray!

  40. mike in ft pierce fl says:

    Those are some beautiful reds blooms in that dogwood tree.

  41. Frances, says:

    Mike, thanks. The red and pind dogwood are having a very good bloom year. They are still looking great.

  42. Kerri says:

    Oh my, those dogwoods are glorious! We’ve finally managed to establish a white one after losing the first 2 planted 2 years ago (one was pink). They were replaced last year but the pink didn’t make it again. We’ll try again with another pink this spring. Never say die!
    You make me want to plant Japanese Maples too. Yours are beautiful.
    You certainly have a wonderful garden Frances.

  43. Frances, says:

    Kerri, Good for you not giving up on growing the dogwoods. That you got one to survive shows that it is possible for you to have some. When we lived in northeast PA we tried to grow them and gave up, although others in our area had them. That was in our early years, not really knowing much about gardening. Look for non grafted J. maples, they are hardier, I believe. Good luck with them.

  44. patientgardener says:

    Gorgeous trees, I have a very young Dogwood but no sign of any flowers but it might be a completely different type as I am in the UK!

  45. Frances, says:

    Patient Gardener, thanks. I really have no idea which type you might have, but I do know they are all lovely.

  46. Carolyn gail says:

    If memory serves Tennessee is the Dogwood state isn’t it ?

    A wonderful post on your beautiful pink dogwoods, Frances. I hope that you avoided any killing frosts.

  47. Frances, says:

    Carolyn Gail, thanks, I also thought the dogwood was our tree, but was corrected and now know it is the tulip poplar. But the dogwoods do perform admirably here. We did avoid any damage, thankfully.

  48. Marie says:

    Beautiful post!

  49. Frances, says:

    Marie, thanks,glad you enjoyed it.

  50. Pingback: In Praise Of The Dogwood « Fairegarden

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