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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Is It Spring If The Dogwood Blooms

Dogwoods hardly ever bloom this far south actually. As a matter of fact, you should know right off, that this one isn't even in my garden. It belongs to my widowed neighbor. He and his wife, who was a dear gardening friend of mine, brought this one from their cabin in North Carolina. She was one of those gardeners who often tried to defy the odds. You gotta love that!
Several of the dogwoods they planted have been removed over the years but this one stands so stately in their front yard. With its woody, wide open stance of sparsely spaced limbs it demands attention among the oaks and pines even without blooms.

It is presumed that our unusually cold winter has beckoned this welcomed outburst of delicately placed white beauties. Every branch is announcing spring as they reach very high in the sky lined with blossoms. It is a real treat for me to see this tree blooming.

Just one of the added beauties of this treasured blossoming tree is that it allows me to continue to celebrate the life of my sweet neighbor even though she is no longer with us. I can hear her now and the excitement she would express to see her beloved dogwood from North Carolina blooming in her Florida yard.

Would you like to take a walk over from my driveway to my neighbor's? I wanted to show you her Camellia bushes while I'm over there with my camera.
Every winter when I get to see these blooming so profusely I ask myself, "now why don't you have any of these in your yard?"
These are actually coming to the end of their gorgeous blooms. They made it through both of our winter freezes this year without too much damage.

Camellias like just about the same conditions as azaleas ~~~living in acidic soil and dappled sunlight. The shrubs offer their deeply hued evergreen leaves that are on the slender, elongated side and very glossy for the 9 or 10 months when they aren't blooming.

On a bit of a sad note I read somewhere recently that many camellias cultivars are so hybridized now they won’t produce well from seed. But propagation can be done with aerial rooting or cuttings taken from new growth.

I'm thinking we could call this the peony of the south! This is the closest this southern zone will ever to get to a peony. LOL
A special thanks to my next door neighbor for letting me snoop around with my camera. I have great neighbors! Hope you enjoyed this peek at some flowers I'm not growing.

Note to self: Must get camellias and continue to admire dogwoods from a distance.


  1. Meems,
    Maybe the dogwood blooms are a gift from your friend. I hope they will make up for the sacrifices you had during the cold snap. Enjoy them while they last, as much as I envy your ability to have such tropical plants, I couldn't imagine a spring without dogwood blooms. :-)--Randy

  2. Meems I can see that you miss your neighbour and that you have such warm memories of her. Yet her work and presence in her garden lives on. Thank you for sharing such a poignant moment with us.

  3. Very nice yard you get to share. Camellias are wonderful and our Dogwoods have buds on them. Don't know if I could get through spring without seeing a flowering Dogwood tree, I want a pink one!

  4. Those photos of your dogwood blooms with that beautiful sky for backdrop, are spectacular and certainly speak of spring.

  5. The stroll to your beloved neighbor's yard looks like paradise. It be so easy to get enveloped in this pleasant world and never want to leave. I bet kids (?) love it.

    Bless your neighbor/friend for pushing the zonal envelope--a lesson for all of us. Beautiful dogwood and camellias. I need to go check mine.

  6. Amazing! I love dogwoods and we don't have nearly enough given the problems over the last few years.


    PS. I am writing from Barnes & Noble about 20 minutes from my house. Our internet will be down until we receive another DSL modem from AT&T. This is the second time their modems have quit on us. It may be late Thursday or even Friday before I am online at home. I can live here at the bookstore! :-)

  7. Dear Meems, How wonderful to look at the beautiful dogwood and remember your sweet friend...The flowers against the blue sky say spring to me! Do give yourself a camellia or two..they will love you and you them! I bought one last week and plan to use it in the back garden...I can surely keep one acid loving plant happy!


  8. I saw those camellias from a distance. If we'd had more time together, we could have explored your neighbor's place, too! LOL

    I love dogwoods. I once saw one growing in the wild here (it's not very common) and I nearly went nuts announcing it to the rest of my group. They were family, so they forgave my exuberance.

    We have a dogwood on our brick patio that's been there for many years. It gets very little sun and only recently began blooming after being here for at least 15 years (I've lost count now.) It grows somewhat like a large bonsai, because it's not in the greatest of locations for growing large. I'll be heartbroken if I ever lose it.

    I've tried to grow the pink ones and have had no luck yet. Maybe I'll try again this spring, if I can find one that doesn't cost much.

  9. Well, if that isn't the most inviting looking yard! I love Dogwoods- they are everywhere here in Portland. Not in my yard, of course! I only wish :). I actually have a Camellia bloom or two- but they are up against the wall of my house- none on the open side, I thought that was a little weird.

  10. Guess it is spring if they are blooming, ours here in NC might be blooming the first of April. I have seen them bloom in the fall go figure.

  11. I bet it was the cold that caused the dogwood to bloom Meems. How wonderful whatever the reason. Dogwoods in bloom are beautiful and even more so since they are a reminder of your dear, departed gardening neighbor/friend.

    If I could grow camellias in my climate, conditions, etc., I would in a heartbeat (pink one's tho!!) I think they are exquisite. Unfortunately we have the driest, most alkaline soil on the planet. I wouldn't dare do that to them. Lucky you to have them nearby if you don't get any of your own.

  12. Randy,
    A gift indeed.

    "I hope they will make up for the sacrifices you had during the cold snap."~~~ Funny, I was thinking the same thing this morning as I drank in their beauty... then I got back to pruning all that dead stuff. LOL

    Isn't it the wonderful thing about a garden... it lives on with memories to tell the story.

    I'm hoping I get up your way while the Dogwoods are blooming... it is some kind of show!

    Our skies have been crystal clear blue for weeks now... I am in heaven this time of year!

    Their yard is full of interesting things... even though she isn't there to tend it-- her husband tries really hard to keep it up. She created such a great foundation in it.

    YOu have had more than your share of computer problems but you are ever the persistent one. Thank heaven for B&N to get you caught up. Thanks for including me in your limited time. Hope it all gets worked out soon.

    Oh, Gail! You bought a camellia... how wonderful. I actually passed them up twice now while at the nursery. I am having to ask myself some hard questions these days while shopping. I'm not used to that but I'm learning. However, (shhh... don't tell Mr. Meems) the Camellia plant issue has not been put to rest completely in my mind. There's still time to make that purchase. LOL

    Next time, Kylee. Next time you will come and spend every minute we "want to" and yes, we will visit next door too. And next time I might actually have a garden alive without frost damage to share with you. :-) Now that we've met I can totally see your exuberance. Good for you that your dogwood bloomed for you. I'm amazed and proud of it. Here's to you finding a pink one and it will bloom too.

    I'm thinking you could remedy that Dogwood issue and get one for your yard. I would have them if they did well here. I'm just happy I get to see my neighbor's for now.

    I picture NC to have lots of dogwoods. But blooming in Fall... that is amazing.

    I'm very sure it was the cold. We don't usually get cold enough for them but THIS YEAR we helped them out! I've been convincing myself this past few weeks camellias would do really well in my acidic soil and I probably shouldn't be without them any longer. LOL

  13. Dear Meems,
    Seeing the Dogwood was a treat....mine will not bloom for another couple of months.
    Your neighbor must have been a darling. It reminds me that maybe our legacy lays in our gardens.
    My neighbor, that has passed, has a Southern Magnolia in her yard. I keep watch over it.
    Remembering your neighbor is the best,

  14. I love dogwoods, and you're right they are difficult to grow down here. My mother tried it once unsuccessfully. We do have one down the road from us that blooms every year and I enjoy passing by it everyday at this time of year. And, yes, Meems you must get some camellias. You have the perfect yard for them. I planted 6 at my new house and bought another beauty just a week ago. Thanks for sharing your neighbor's yard. It is very lovely, too.

  15. the dogwood is said to be a reminder of the cross of Jesus, and of course, it blooms in the Spring, around the time of "Easter". i copied the following off of Google.

    The legend of the dogwood tree, author unknown, is as follows:
    In Jesus' time, the dogwood grew
    To a stately size and a lovely hue.
    'Twas strong and firm it's branches interwoven
    For the cross of Christ its timbers were chosen.
    Seeing the distress at this use of their wood
    Christ made a promise which still holds good:
    "Never again shall the dogwood grow
    Large enough to be used so.
    Slender and twisted, it shall be
    With blossoms like the cross for all to see.
    As blood stains the petals marked in brown
    The blossom's center wears a thorny crown.
    All who see it will remember Me
    Crucified on a cross from the dogwood tree.
    Cherished and protected, this tree shall be
    A reminder to all of my agony."

    Again, this is just a legend. It is a nice poem, but there is no biblical basis to it.

  16. Oh they are beautiful Meems! My native cornelian cherry dogwoods and the red twig dogwood don't have nearly as showy blooms as your neighbor's do. The camellias are beautiful too.

    I think it's wonderful that your neighbor's husband does his best to care for her garden now. A lot of people wouldn't take on such a task. It must be a labor of love for him.

    This is a very sweet tribute along with the older post you linked to. She must have been a special lady.

  17. If the dogwoods form berries, ask your neighbor for a few when they begin to fall, in autumn.

    They grow easily from seed, but a little cold stratification will speed the process.

    Since this tree thrived in your climate, so should your seedlings.

    The birds and I take turns planting seeds, so we never run out of seedlings.

  18. oh my goodness! This was a lovely lovely walk. There is just nothing so southern in a garden as azaleas, camellias and dogwoods--thank you for such a gorgeous show!

  19. Oh yes Meems, you need some camelllias in your garden. I think they are just the most beautiful bushes. I used to listen to Red Barber out of Tallahassee,Fl every Friday when I drove to work talk about sports. But at the beginning of spring he would start his program with talking about the camillias. At that time I didn't know what they were exactly but when I see a display like this one I am reminde of him going on about their beauty. That dogwood is a beauty too.

  20. Q,
    My neighbor was a dear. There isn't a day goes by that I don't think of her as our yards blend one into the other. She taught me so much in the first years of my own gardening experiences.

    Dogwoods remind me a little of cherry trees which also don't do so well here. When the dogwoods bloom in the south it is sensational. Glad you get to see one too. there is a remedy to the lack of camellias here.... I think I need to get to work on it.LOL

    SG aka Mom:
    I've never heard that but it is interesting to think about. Me thinks a true dogwood lover made that one up.

    Good morning, Linda,
    My neighbor was one of the rare treasures in life we are blessed to meet up with... and her hubby is a dear, too. He has hired some outside help and tries really hard to keep up with what he can even though it isn't 'his thing'. I do remind him often she would be so proud.

    I bet your dogwoods are gorgeous in their own rite.

    The birdies are helpful at our seed process! thanks for the great tips. And thanks for stopping by.

    Nothing so southern for sure... I just wish those dogwoods were a definite reliable bloom. The trees do fine but the bloom is rare.

    Did you live in Tallahassee? The dogwoods bloom beautifully there. My son lives there and he has several in his yard. I'm going to do something about getting some camellias of my own! Glad you had a great vacation in Texas!

  21. So magical to just sit and stare at my screen at your and your neigbour's blossoms. Heavenly blossoms to remember a fine friend.
    Alas, Camellias are just hot house flowers for us. Was surprised to learn that Cornus florida is not commonly grown (for good reason) in Florida.

  22. Meems, those shots of the Dogwood are just lovely...they make me happy!
    And your birdbath is great - I'm happy to hear it holds its water.


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

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