It’s at this time of year the secateurs are unleashed on shrubs that flower on the current season’s growth, and on plants that are annually coppiced for colourful stems or woodland management. My gardening volunteer group at the Horniman Museum have been doing that this week.
Cornus is a genus of shrubs known as the Dogwoods that are grown ornamentally for their colourful stems during the winter months.
In order to ensure fantastic winter colour from plants like the Dogwoods, it’s important to undertake some regular annual maintenance, because it is the new stems that provide the best colour.
In spring, when the new buds are about to break cut each stem back to ground level with secateurs or loppers. This may seem incredibly harsh treatment but don’t worry, they will grow back quickly and provide another year of amazing winter colour when they lose their leaves.
However…This should only be carried out on established plants, so if they are recently planted leave it to the second year before doing anything. It is also good practise to remove any weeds and throw some mulch down around the cleared plant bases after pruning.
If you’re thinking of planting Dogwoods they look great planted in large blocks and as an under planting against other plants with attractive stem colour such as this bed at the Horniman Museum & Gardens where we have a bed of Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ under planted amongst the lovely white stem Himalayan Birch Betula utilis ‘Jacquemontii’