Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Grasping twigs for Spring's signs

Two years ago, on February 21, 2013, the local red osier dogwood (or, depending on your information source and spell checker, redosier or red-osier dogwood) looked like this. From what I read, the bright red color is on new growth. I've always thought that the brighter color was a sign of Spring's longer and sometimes warmer days.

redosier dogwood in color
redosier dogwood in color
Photo by J. Harrington

I'm betting that this year, there will be little, if any, bright red color. Tomorrow I'll go get a photo of the same bushes shown above and see if I'm right. I'll post tomorrow's photo here. Our friends at Eloise Butler have this to say:
"The "red" refers to the color of the bark of branches, stems and twigs in fall, winter and spring; more greenish-red in summer."

The USDA plant guide list a fascinating variety of uses Native Americans had for this plans and notes that:
"The bark and twigs are reddish to purple and fairly smooth from autumn to late spring; after the leaves have fallen, the deep burgundy branches add color to the winter landscape. The bark, twigs, and leaves are bright green in spring through summer."
I'm wondering if my "knowledge" of redosier dogwood qualifies me as a member of the club of folks described by C. Kettering (also attributed to M. Twain among others) as "It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so."

Planting a Dogwood

By Roy Scheele 

Tree, we take leave of you; you’re on your own.
Put down your taproot with its probing hairs
that sluice the darkness and create unseen
the tree that mirrors you below the ground.
For when we plant a tree, two trees take root:
the one that lifts its leaves into the air,
and the inverted one that cleaves the soil
to find the runnel’s sweet, dull silver trace
and spreads not up but down, each drop a leaf
in the eternal blackness of that sky.
The leaves you show uncurl like tiny fists
and bear small button blossoms, greenish white,
that quicken you. Now put your roots down deep;
draw light from shadow, break in on earth’s sleep.

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