One of the emblems of the eastern deciduous forest is the native dogwood, Cornus florida. Its four-bracted flower clusters are synonymous with spring. But the genus Cornus is also known for other family members that bring different attributes to our landscapes. The Chinese dogwood, Cornus kousa, has lovely flaky bark with interesting patterns of tan, beige, ivory, and brown. Redosier dogwood, Cornus sericea, adds interest to the winter garden with its colorful twigs.
The Dogwood Collection straddles a long, open ridge between the Gotelli Conifer Collection and the steep slopes leading down to the Anacostia River. The lazy Anacostia passes by in a wide bend and can be seen from two overlooks in the collection. The Woman’s National Farm and Garden Association provided the impetus and financial support that led to the planting of the collection in 1952. Today, the long grassy fairway that leads to the fountain at the far end is lined with scores of mature dogwoods that bloom throughout the spring and summer months. The show starts in March with the yellow flowers of the cornelian-cherry, Cornus mas. Native dogwood blooms grace the collection in mid spring, and the Chinese dogwoods bloom heavily as late as early June. Red fruits follow in summer, and leaves turn to coral, burgundy, and red in September and October. Winter frosts highlight the red fruits and the beauty of flower buds ready to unfold in the first warm days of spring.
The Dogwood Collection is at its most beautiful in spring, from mid-April to early June. Many visitors come here throughout the year because of the spectacular views of the Anacostia River and the quiet, restful ambience of the collection.
TIPS FOR VISITORS
When you visit, park in the small parking lot near the entrance of the collection, and plan a leisurely stroll to the fountain at the far end of the collection and back. Allow at least a half hour for the walk and more if you plan to stop and rest at one of the two Anacostia River overlooks.