Burnett: Adapting our provincial floral emblem to the Okanagan

There are many species of the Dogwood, but not all of them will thrive in our local backyards.

While the magnolias were spectacular this spring, they have been outdone by the dogwoods this year.

The dogwood was adopted as British Columbia’s official flower in 1956, winning out over the columbine.

There are several species and many varieties of dogwoods that will do well in many parts of British Columbia.

However, it is the native Cornus nuttalli that is our actual floral emblem.

This is a tree that thrives in the coastal rain forest and grows six to eight metres high. But here in the Okanagan, it does not do well.

In 1966, a well-known nursery on the coast called H.M. Eddie & Sons released a variety named ‘Eddies White Wonder,’ a cross between the native species and Cornus florida.

The Cornus nuttalli provided the white flowers and the Cornus florida influenced the hardiness and unbelievable fall foliage.

Today, you can see a beautiful specimen in full regalia in front of the Trinity Baptist Church at Springfield and Spall in Kelowna.

There is another native dogwood most are not aware of called the Cornus canadensis.

The reason for its obscurity is it is neither a tree nor a bush, rather a creeping ground cover that thrives in shade—but the leaves and flowers are distinctly dogwood.

One of the most popular dogwood species used in Okanagan landscapes is Cornus florida, which comes in several shades of pink to almost red as well as pure white.

It can be relied upon to be in full bloom on Mother’s Day each spring and makes for a spectacular show on its own or combined with lilacs.

To see one of the best in bloom, drive east on Rowcliffe Avenue from Richter in Kelowna. When you come to Ethel Street it will be right in front of you.

This is the variety ‘Cherokee Chief’ and the reason I know this is it came from my family’s nursery on Ethel Street in the 1970s.

One of the great things about dogwoods is most years the blooming season is prolonged. This year it seems they are blooming forever!

When the Cornus florida dogwoods loose their bloom, however, the show is far from over because soon we will get a fantastic show from the Cornus kousa, commonly known as the Korean dogwood.

Sometimes it is called the Japanese dogwood and sometime the Chinese dogwood.

Its blossoms come after the leaves have emerged therefore it is blooming in late May and into June.

My favourite Cornus kousa is a variety called ‘Satomi,’ which is a pink colour. All the dogwoods I have mentioned are considered small trees and will fit in nicely with smaller properties.

They have proven to be very reliable here in the Okanagan and spring would just not be the same without them.

***

I must not forget to remind you of the Earth Wind Fire event to be held June 1 at the Delta Grand Okanagan.

The funds raised by this fabulous event will go to the Nature Trust of British Columbia (www.naturetrust.bc.ca).

 

Tune in to The Don Burnett Garden Show on AM 1150 News Talk Sports Saturday mornings, 8 to 10 a.m.

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