Winter can be a drab time of year, with the landscape in shades of gray – or monotone white when it snows. Especially in colder areas, with long periods of snow, our eyes crave some color to relieve the monotony. Evergreen shrubs don’t help much, since in soft winter light green can become gray, but strongly-colored twigs on shrubs and trees always stand out against brown earth or white snow.
The Arctic Fire Red Twig Dogwood really lives up to its name, and brings exactly the bright coloring that is needed to brighten the winter garden. There are other red twig dogwoods available, but this special variety is a big leap forward. Not only are the twigs vibrantly colored in brilliant red all winter long, but the plant is naturally bushy and upright, so it produces far more new twigs from low-down on the plant. This means it is dense and full, making it really stand out, not sparse and thin, like more ordinary dogwoods can be. It stays shorter too, reaching only 3 to 4 feet tall, making it ideal for modern smaller gardens.
As well as being a great addition to your garden for color, the Arctic Fire Red Twig Dogwood is also a basic plant for all cold areas, where the variety of plants can be limited. It is winter hardy to at least minus 20 degrees, which puts it right inside zone 5, covering all but the most extremely cold areas of the country. Yet it is heat resistant too and thrives just as well when summer temperatures approach 100 degrees. There is even more to this plant, because it also thrives in wet soil, and even in shallow water, where most other plants will fail. If you have low-lying damp spots, or a stream or pond to landscape, then this plant has to be your number-one choice.
The Red Twig Dogwood, Cornus sericea, is a North American native plant, growing from Alaska to Newfoundland, on both sides of the US-Canada border. It grows naturally in wetlands, along streams and the banks of rivers, and is an important plant for reducing erosion. It has been widely grown in gardens here and in Europe for well over 100 years, admired for its red winter twigs. To develop stronger stem color, Mick Farrow, a dedicated nurseryman and plant breeder form Holly Hill Farms, Earleville, Maryland, turned his breeding skills to the problem. He crossed various outstanding forms of this plant, and selected the seedlings, until he came up with the ideal plant, naming it officially with his family name in 2008. This improved variety, sold as Arctic Fire by the Proven Winners brand, is smaller than wild plants, growing just 3 to 4 feet tall, rather than the 6 to 10 feet of wild plants. It twigs are the strongest vibrant red color, and it grows much more densely too, with over 60 bright red twigs pushing up from the base of mature plants. Such a special variety cannot be grown from seed, and since it is patent protected, if it doesn’t say ‘Arctic Fire’ it won’t be the plant you need.
Plant your Arctic Fire Red Twig Dogwood in a sunny or partially shaded location. It will grow well in almost any garden soil, and thrives under ordinary garden conditions. Although it is a great choice for wet soil, and looks very attractive beside water, it will be perfectly happy in normal gardens too. In a smaller garden, plant it among other plants around your house, or in shrub beds. In larger gardens, plant it in groups, spacing the plants about 2 feet apart, for a spectacular winter display. During the summer your plants will be attractive too, with oval green leaves, making an attractive backdrop for spring and summer flowering plants. The leaves are up to 4 inches long and 2 inches wide, with a smooth upper surface and a very pale green lower surface. In fall they turn beautiful shades of red, adding to the joys of that colorful season, before falling to reveal the stunning twigs.
Water your new plants well during the first year or two, and after that they will happily tolerate normal dry periods in summer. This plant is not normally bothered by pests or diseases and it is also resistant to deer. Unlike the common red twig dogwood, which needs regular pruning to produce plenty of red twigs, Arctic Fire constantly sends up new growth from the base and is always dense with bright color. No special care at all is needed for this easy to grow plant.
Here at the Tree Center we always make sure we offer the best forms of widely grown garden plants, because experts know it is always best to grow improved types of plants, rather than cheaper, ordinary plants. The Arctic Fire Red Twig Dogwood is a real winner, and it is highly sought-after by those ‘in the know’. Order now or be disappointed, because our stocks will not last.