ISSUE 7  |  The Considered Garden

Gardening 101: Red Twig Dogwood

February 14, 2017 6:00 AM

BY Jeanne Rostaing

Red Twig Dogwood, Cornus sericea: Red Willow

There are all sorts of plants you can use to provide much needed color in your garden in winter.  But for a jolt of scarlet that is unusual and sculptural, consider adding red twig dogwood to your landscape.

Let me be clear, when I say red I don’t mean rust or reddish brown or the dark red of red wine.  I mean bright red.  Think heart-shaped boxes of Valentine’s Day candy:


Above: Photograph by Steven Depolo via Flickr.

I promise, you will stop in amazement if you are out for a winter walk and happen upon a stand of Cornus sericea. The smooth, bright red stems somehow seem to be illuminated, maybe even brighter and redder then they actually are, against the general drabness of other plants. They are particularly striking when skies are gray and snow is on the ground.


Above: Photograph by Jerry Kirkhart via Flickr.

Cornus sericea is a wide-ranging native shrub found from Alaska and northern Canada down through southern California and Virginia and even Mexico. It is highly adapted to a broad temperature range including severe cold and often appears as an understory plant in forests and woodlands. In the garden it obligingly provides four season interest, producing flat clusters of fragrant white flowers in the spring followed by white berries which attract many types of birds.  In the fall its leaves put on a spectacular show turning orangey-red and burgundy.  But it is in winter, after its leaves have fallen, that red twig dogwood comes into its own.


Above: Photograph by Audrey Zharkikh via Flickr.

It is a remarkably easy plant to maintain but its signature bright hue begins to fade as stems age so some judicious pruning is required. There are two ways to do it. You can cut the whole thing down to the ground every 2 or 3 years. That will give you lots of color, but you will sacrifice the spring flowers which appear on last year’s growth. Alternatively you can remove about a quarter of the stems every year encouraging colorful new growth while still retaining most of the flowers.



Above: Red twig dogwood branches are a bright contrast to white birch trunks and snow. Photograph by Wewon31 via Flickr.

Cheat Sheet

  • While this plant is not aggressive, it does send out suckers.  If your space is limited, you may need to control width by removing new shoots.
  • Use this native plant in your garden to attract birds and other wildlife.  Red twig dogwood will work as a specimen plant throughout the year and can also be used as an informal hedge or screen as it readily forms thickets.
  • A remarkable feature of red twig dogwood is that it is flood tolerant; plant it in rain gardens, in swales, or along stream banks where it will thrive and help to control erosion.

Keep It Alive

  • Hardy in USDA growing zones 2 to 9, red twig dogwood is a moisture-loving, fast grower that will quickly reach a sizable 6 to 8 feet in height and width.
  • It is not picky about soil and will thrive even in clay or in boggy conditions.
  • Grow C. sericea in full sun to partial shade, but it is best to avoid placing red twig dogwood in a site that is hot and dry.


Above: Photograph via Signature Plants. Yellow-stemmed dogwood is a variety of red twig dogwood. Cornus Stolonifera Flaviramea is £4 from Signature Plants.

If red is not your color, Cornus sericea obligingly comes in bright yellow.  Yellow twig dogwood or Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’ enlivens the winter landscape equally as dramatically as its red relative. Its cultivation requirements are the same, including the pruning, but it tends to be a somewhat smaller shrub, growing to a maximum of from 5 to 6 feet tall and wide. It combines well with the red version and the two together will make for a brilliant winter display.

Looking for a shrub to add winter interest to a landscape? See our earlier posts:



ISSUE 7  |  The Considered Garden

10 Easy Pieces: Rubber Plant Pots

February 14, 2017 4:00 AM

BY Alexa Hotz

I increasingly find myself drawn to the look of rubber plant pots. What did it for me was a collection of the pots in the courtyard of Paris shop Merci; wild carrot greens were billowing out of the tall ones, wilted chives and leafy herbs in the short ones. Plus they’re made of recycled tires that withstand the elements and keep non-biodegradable rubber out of landfills. What’s more chic than that? Here are our current 10 favorite black rubber plant pots.

Venice Recycled Tire Tall Flower Pot

Above: The Venice Recycled Tire Tall Flower Pot from Flat Tire Decor is $28.95 at Amazon.

Kinta Rubber Square Basket

Above: The Kinta Rubber Basket is designed as an indoor or outdoor flower pot. Available at Beter Leven in the Netherlands.

Puebco Japanese Rubber Bucket

Above: The Puebco Japanese Rubber Bucket is ¥8,640 JPY ($76 USD) at Wear in Japan.

Merci Black Rubber Plant Pot

Above: The Black Rubber Plant Pot measures about 5 inches wide and 7 inches high; $20 at Merci in Paris.

BNC Handicraft Recycled Tire Bucket

Above: The four handle Recycled Tire Bucket is available to order through BNC Handicraft.

Muubs Dacarr Rubber Box

Above: The Dacarr Rubber Box is a 12-inch square box that measures 6 inches high. Available at Muubs.

Labour & Wait Rubber Plant Pot

Above: A small Rubber Pot made from recycled rubber is about 5 inches wide and 4 inches high; £4.50 ($5.60 USD) at Labour and Wait.

Muubs Dacarr Black Large Rubber Basket

Above: The Large Dacarr Black Rubber Basket by Muubs is currently on sale for $39 at Amara.

Apple Picker 2-Gallon Rubber Bucket

Above: A conventional 2-Gallon Rubber Bucket made for industrial use has a metal handle and is available through Apple Picker.

Muubs Small Dacarr Plant Pots

Above: A Set of 3 Small Dacarr Rubber Pots is available through Muubs.

For more ideas see our posts:

ISSUE 7  |  The Considered Garden

Shopper’s Diary: Peonies in Paris, for Flowers and Coffee

February 14, 2017 2:00 AM

BY Annie Quigley

Recently opened in the 10th arrondissement of Paris is Peonies, a shop that advertises, simply, “coffee and flowers.” What better companions?

Designed by French architect Eloise Bosredon, Peonies serves both wildflower bouquets and coffee roasted locally by Coutume (for more, see Design Sleuth: Plumen Lightbulbs at Cafe Coutume on Remodelista). Here’s a look inside the shop.

Photography via Peonies.

Peonies Paris Interior

Above: The café is tiled in green (with matching grout) to contrast with pale pink tables and chairs. The flower shop is tucked in one corner.

Peonies Paris Entryway

Above: Freshly picked wildflowers in enamel pails mingle with hanging houseplants and small paper-wrapped bouquets. Peonies’ owner Clémentine Lévy sources the blooms from the Rungis market, then arranges the flowers herself in a basement workshop underneath the shop. (Lévy named the cafe for her favorite flower.)

Peonies Paris Shelves

Above: A vignette on a built-in shelf: vintage-style vases, homemade jams, and a French garden book. A similar version of the ceramic cactus is available via Lina Cofan for Hay.

Peonies Paris Flowers in Pails

Above: When it comes to bouquets, Lévy told interiors blog The Socialite Family, “I wanted to offer something a bit different. Here, you won’t find any rose, or maybe some roses from a garden, but the idea is that there won’t be any classic flowers such as orchids. I make bouquets of wildflowers or of flowers from gardens. Ninety percent of the flowers I use come from France.” Here, small daisies and pale purple chrysanthemums form loose, romantic bouquets.

Peonies Paris Serving Cart

Above: The cafe serves coffee, organic teas, and fresh pastries. Green is everywhere; on a serving cart, small repurposed bottles of water are filled with sprigs of mint.

Peonies Paris Plants by Sink

Above: Buckets of freshly picked blooms and greens sit by a farm sink, ready to be gathered into casual floral arrangements.

Peonies Paris Window
Above: A stylized peony on the cafe’s front window hints at the flower shop inside.

For more of our favorite green coffee shops, see our posts: