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Sunday, March 26, 2017


PUSSY WILLOW AND RED OSIER DOGWOOD (don't forget to put water in the container)
Sunday, 9:00 AM.  33 degrees F on both thermometers.  Wind variable, mostly calm with light gusts.Humidity is 95%, and it is foggy and drizzling.  The barometer stands steady, at 30.01".  Weather for the next ten days is predicted to be mostly more of the same, with some clearing and temperatures warming up into the forties and higher, with lows around freezing.
   The red twig, or red osier, dogwood shrub, Cornus stolonifera, in the Dogwood Family (Cornaceae) is particularly beautiful and useful in the native landscape.  It usually occupies wet areas but will grow on drier sites as well.  The species name, stolonifera, refers to its growth habit of spreading by stolons, or underground stems.  This characteristic makes it very valuable for stabilizing stream banks and wet hillsides, but also renders it pretty invasive in the smaller landscape.
Fortunately there is a horticultural selection of the plant, Cornus 'Baleyi' that does not spread and can be used to good advantage in the home landscape.  The red osier also flowers and fruits very nicely, and thus offers year-round visual interest.  There is also a yellow-twig dogwood of European origin, Cornus alba,  which is a nice contrast to the red in the winter landscape. Many willows also offer winter contrasts of yellow to orange.
   The native pussy willow, Salix discolor, in the willow family (Salicaceae), is almost ubiquitous in the eastern and Mid-western US and northern Canada.  It is a large shrub to small, multi-trunked tree with gray bark and simple leaves without teeth (or very finely serrated); leaves are shiny green on top, gray underneath.  It occupies wet spots along roadside ditches, stream banks and similar wet areas
   Late winter and early spring doldrums can be relieved by bringing these and other dormant branches inside, where they will soon leaf out and some even flower. 
   Bring the outside in!

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