The Garden Guide

Book: A treatise on the theory and practice of landscape gardening, adapted to North America,1841
Chapter: Section IV. Deciduous Ornamental Trees

Visual character of Dogwood

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The Dogwood is quite a picturesque small tree, and owes its interest chiefly to the beauty of its numerous blossoms and fruit. The leaves are oval, about three inches long, dark green above, and paler below. In the beginning of May, while the foliage is beginning to expand rapidly, and before the tree is in full leaf, the flowers unfold, and present a beautiful spectacle, often covering the whole tree with their snowy garniture. The principal beauty of these consists in the involucrum or calyx, which, instead of being green, as is commonly the case, in the Dogwood takes a white or pale blue tint. The true flowers may be seen collected in little clusters, and are, individually, quite small, though surrounded by the involucrum, which produces all the effect of a fine white blossom. In the early part of the season, the Dogwood is one of the gayest ornaments of our native woods. It is seen at that time to great advantage in sailing up the Hudson river. There, in the abrupt Highlands, which rise boldly many hundred feet above the level of the river, patches of the Dogwood in full bloom gleam forth in snowy whiteness from among the tender green of the surrounding young foliage, and the gloomier shades of the dark evergreens, which clothe with a rich verdure the rocks and precipices that overhang the moving flood below. The berries which succeed these blossoms become quite red and brilliant in autumn; and, as they are plentifully borne in little clusters, they make quite a display. When the sharp frosts have lessened their bitterness, they are the food of the robin, which, at that late season, eats them greedily.