One of my favorite local sites in the spring is the blooming pacific dogwood trees as I drive over the Lewisburg Saddle in May. Their creamy blossoms look spectacular against a backdrop of dark green conifers. The large, bright white flowers tinge pink as they age. They sometimes bloom a second time late in the summer, thus providing nectar to pollinators throughout the spring and summer. The seeds become bright red as they ripen and provide forage for wildlife including small mammals, deer, elk, pileated woodpeckers, and band-tailed pigeons. The leaves of pacific dogwood are a deep glossy green, elliptical and grow in opposite pairs.
Benefits for the home include wildlife watching from the kitchen window and curb appeal in the fall when you can expect a brilliant show of color as the leaves turn various shades of red, pink, and orange. Our native dogwood has larger flowers than the pink flowered non-native Florida dogwood often used in landscaping and has the additional advantage of being resistant to the diseases that plague Florida dogwood.
Although Pacific dogwood trees are not easy to establish, their value to the local wildlife make it more than worth the effort. Supporting local wildlife and pollinators is one of the many reasons I purchase plants through the Benton SWCD Native Plant Sale every year. Another reason is the very reasonable prices. Take advantage of the low prices and purchase several pacific dogwoods to try your hand at establishing. Choose a site with good drainage and rich soil. Your dogwood will need periodic watering through the summer for the first few years.
About the Author
Sarah Uebel is a botanist, mycologist and environmental educator. She has a Bachelor's in Botany from Oregon State University in Botany. She is passionate about restoration and conservation of native habitats in Oregon.