Seeing Myself In A Flowering Dogwood

By Nikki Tilley | March 27, 2022
Image by JasmineImage
by Nikki Tilley
March 27, 2022

I’ve written before about my love for the tulip tree in our front yard. I look forward to seeing its beautiful yellow tulip-like blooms each spring. But this is just one of the spring-flowering trees that I enjoy. Dogwood trees also bring about excitement.

A Love for Growing Dogwood Trees

I live in North Carolina, and while the state tree may be the pine, our state flower comes from the flowering dogwood. Interestingly enough, the white dogwood flower (or sometimes pink/red) is actually a bract, or specialized leaf, that surrounds the inner yellow flower cluster. I don’t really care about all that formal stuff though; they’re simply pretty blooms to me. 

And once you see the dogwoods flowering, usually sometime in April, it traditionally signals planting time for things like corn. Other than the flowers, what I love most about growing dogwood trees is the fact that you need only one to produce the cool red berries which provide food for birds and other wildlife.

Our Unusual Flowering Dogwood Tree

There’s a flowering dogwood tree (Cornus florida) in my front yard, well more towards the front side. It’s been there for years, having popped up all on its own, hidden amongst the surrounding trees and understory plants that at one time grew in the area. It was always a dream of mine to remove all those other plants so we could actually see and enjoy this little dogwood. Last year it happened. 

We finally removed all the large white pines and scraggly undergrowth along the side of our property. Now it’s a huge garden area that supports a number of native plants and pollinators, with that little flowering dogwood tree included. I think what I love most about this tree is how unusual it is. Because of all the plants and bigger trees that grew in the spot where this dogwood initially sprouted, the tree didn’t have much room of its own to grow and thrive as it should have. In fact, in order for the tree to get any sunlight or growing room at all, it had grown kind of sideways.

Now with everything gone around it, the dogwood has managed to straighten up a bit, but still remains somewhat at an awkward angle. Sure, I could probably stake the tree and hope for it to become more erect, but that, to me, would take away from the dogwood’s quirky sidewinding characteristic. It’s that quirkiness which makes my tree so special, and more relatable. It’s pretty much just like me”¦ different, one-of-a-kind, odd but full of promise, a little crazy, smaller than most yet stronger than you’d think, willing to help when needed, and able to make the most of uncomfortable situations (while still blooming anyway).

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