Red Twig Dogwoods are suckering shrubs that thrive in sun to part shade where water is abundant. In nature they are often found on river and creek banks. Their flowers are pretty, like little Queen Anne’s Lace, but not especially showy. Winter is their best season. Cold weather turns their rich brown stems to vibrant red, which is especially showy against snow (remember snow?) and grey cloudy winter sky. A couple of species are readily available:
Cornus sericea ‘Cardinal’ is 8 to 10 feet tall and wide. The leaves take on a red purple fall color The stems are orange red I winter.
The Tatarian Dogwood (Cornus alba) is more tolerant of dry soils. Prairie Fire is 5 to 7 ft. tall and wide. It has light chartreuse foliage and white flowers in spring. The stems are bright red in winter.
Ivory Halo is smaller, 5 to 6 feet tall and wide. It has green and white variegated leaves. The red winter stems are fine in texture.
All red twig dogwoods should be pruned every year in late winter down to about 1 foot. This encourages new young shoots with the best winter color. Mass them for a winter show, or mix them into a shrub border to provide that winter ‘bling’.
Sango Kaku Maple is a beautiful large coral bark maple. This tree’s coral colored bark is one of its many outstanding features. The Japanese name means “Coral Tower”. This highly sought out cultivar is always in demand for its striking color. The leaf color is a brilliant light green which truly stands out against the reddish bark. The leaves are tinged red which seem to fade as the leaves mature. “Sango Kaku” grows best in sun to filtered light. Heavy shade tends to wash out the bark color. “Sango Kaku” can reach up to 20-25 feet over time. The cool temperatures brighten the coral bark as it adds amazing color even in late winter after all the other garden colors are gone. This amazing tree is sure to add year-round color to your garden and become one of your favorites to photograph in any season!
Nandina, sometimes called Heavenly bamboo, is one of the toughest and most deer resistant of Southern plants. It will grow from sun to shade and is tolerant of any soil conditions with the exception of wet. Nandina domestica, the most common nandina, is much maligned as leggy and ugly, but when pruned properly (read that as with a heavy hand) it is bushy with masses of feathery foliage. The white summer flowers and red winter berries are very showy. Smaller cultivars abound! ‘Compacta’ looks like a regular nandina but stays in the 4 to 6 foot range. ‘Fire Power’ stays small and has flaming red winter color when planted in full sun. ‘Obsession’ is a new introduction with more color than others in the species and a maximum height of just 4 feet. ‘Flirt’ is a true dwarf, reaching only 2 feet. It has blue green foliage topped with purple new growth, a lovely combination in the landscape.