Pucker Up for Dogwoods

Cornus stolonifera Pucker Up in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Colorful Cornus stolonifera ‘Pucker Up’ (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

I’ve been a fan of shrubs for decades, they add architecture and color to the year round garden while helping keep maintenance to a minimum. Many shrubs offer additional benefits of vibrant foliage, beautiful flowers and luscious fruit. And a few offer extraordinary attributes wrapped up in a petite package, minus the bow. One such shrub is the North American native, Cornus stolonifera ‘Neil Z,’ commonly known as the red-twig dogwood ‘Pucker Up.’    

The indigo fruit of native dogwood in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

The indigo fruit of Cornus amomum (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Twig-dogwoods, mid-size shrubs that are prized for their brilliant stem colors in winter, are well known throughout New England. A few favorites in my garden are the grey-twig dogwood, Cornus racemosa, which has masses of fluffy white flowers in spring, ivory fruit in summer, and burgundy stems in winter, and the silky dogwood, Cornus amomum, with the same creamy flowers followed by indigo blue fruit and russet stems in winter. Both shrubs are adored nesting sites for birds and the fruit is always gobbled up within days of ripening.

Red Twig & Globe in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

The snow accentuates red twig branches (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Over the years, I have planted twig-dogwoods in my garden beds, along the stream and throughout the open pastures. I’ve found that plants with the most colorful stems aren’t as reliable with fruit production, but more than make up for it in their winter displays. I’ve always treasured Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’ for its dazzling variegated foliage and blazing crimson stems, but the native yellow-twig, Cornus stolonifera ‘Flaviramea,’ red-twig C. stolonifera ‘Cardinal’ and most recent introduction, Cornus amomum ‘Cayenne,’ all set my heart a-flutter.

Cornus stolonifera 'Neil Z' in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Cornus stolonifera ‘Neil Z’ steals the garden scene (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Yet, for the gardener that seeks multi-seasonal interest, none can hold a torch to Pucker Up. With its garden friendly size, deer resistance and uniquely textured foliage, it becomes an immediate asset to any garden border. Pucker Up is a versatile shrub that can easily be used in mass planting, for naturalistic or native plantings, or as a unique specimen. The excitement starts with a dense formation of curiously puckered leaves in spring that metamorphose to brilliant shades of gold and burgundy in fall, with an encore of carmine stems revealed after the leaves drop in early winter. Unlike most twig-dogwoods that require annual pruning to keep their color and shape, Pucker Up is a slow grower that maintains a size of 3-4’ tall and wide, preferring only full sun to part shade and moist soil in zones 3-a/b to 8-a/b. With such a list of fine qualities and minimal care requirements, Pucker Up is a thrilling option for any garden ♥

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A Garden for All