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Gosh Doggit, Dogwoods are Blooming!

Dogwoods blooming near the Tulip Tree Trail.

Dogwoods blooming near the Tulip Tree Trail.

This morning as I was riding the shuttle down Museum Way on my way to work I noticed with some surprise that the dogwoods have started blooming. They always seem to take me that way:  one day the forest is gray, with just the first fuzz of green appearing. The next day it is scattered with white blossoms like confetti, and more trees burst into bloom every day.

Flowering Dogwood bloomIf you walk the trails enough, you come to look forward to the bloom of your favorite trees. My favorites are two native dogwoods on the Tulip Tree Trail, not too far from the Additional Parking area. One is at the turn of the switchback on the trail’s western end, where the tree grows up from below, so the blooms are at eye level. The other is a little further on, where a tall forest dogwood has created an arch of white blooms over the trail. I visited them today, to discover each of them sporting only a few blossoms, but covered with green buds promising many blooms to come! (In fact, the white “petals” we see on the dogwoods are actually just showy “bracts” surrounding the tree’s actual blooms: the tiny yellow flowers in the center.)

Cherokee Princess dogwood on the Museum's South Lawn.

Stellar Pink dogwood

These native dogwoods (Flowering Dogwood, Cornus florida) are by no means the only species to be found on Crystal Bridges’ grounds, though they are naturally predominant along the forest trails.  There are eight additional species to be found, ranging from the blushing Stellar Pink (Cornus x ‘Stellar Pink’) to the ginormous blooms of the Venus dogwood (Cornus x ‘Venus’). A “variety” is a naturally occurring species or a native … we only have one native species (Cornus florida). The other 8 are cultivated varieties or “cultivars” that have been cultivated by humans to have certain traits (resistance to disease or large blooms for instance).

A trail map showing where you can find each of the nine species of dogwood on the Museum grounds.

A trail map showing where you can find each of the nine species of dogwood on the Museum grounds.

You can get a tour of several of these species, as well as many other spring-blooming native plants at Crystal Bridges, on our Spring Showcase Trail Experience, a guided tour of the grounds offered at 11:30 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays through May 15. During the tour, our knowledgeable Trail Guides provide a wealth of information about native plant species and the development of the grounds here at the Museum. They can also answer many questions you may have along the way. There is no fee for the Spring Showcase, and you don’t have to register in advance, just meet the Guide on Walker Landing about 5 minutes before the tour starts. Wear good walking shoes, and bring a camera!

Linda DeBerry
Senior Copy Editor / Publications Manager

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