By David Schreier
‘FireDance’ Dogwood, a feu de joie in the Winter Landscape
The Dogwoods are among the most useful of hardy ornamental woody plants. They are adapted for many garden purposes, and grow well in acidic to neutral garden soil of abundant moisture that has been enriched with organic matter. For shady places few shrubs are better, but the variegated forms are brighter in the open. The forms with colored stems are very effective in winter, and grow and show to good advantage when grouped near water, especially if a good portion of old wood is cut out every year. If cut to ground level each spring after they have been established, their natural habit is to curve gently from the center and reach up to attain their ultimate height.
‘FireDance’ dogwood (Cornus sericea ‘Bailadeline’) is a new compact red-oiser dogwood variety created by Bailey Nurseries and is a feu de joie – a bonfire in celebration – of the change of seasons from autumn to winter with its plum colored fall foliage and its display of flame red stems during the winter months. Red-oiser dogwoods are native to North America and thrive along streambanks and in wet woods. ‘FireDance’ is an excellent choice for a rain garden or can be used in the “wilder” shrub border in combination with other moisture loving shrubs such as viburnums and willows. Allow plenty of room for the ‘FireDance’ to naturally spread. It also looks handsome combined with birch trees against a background of evergreens to make an eye-catching winter planting in our northern landscape. ‘FireDance’ is winter hardy to ̵ 50º.
Red-oiser dogwoods are good wildlife-attracting plants. Among the many kinds of animal and bird that feed on the fruit of red-oiser dogwood are rabbits, wood ducks, evening grosbeaks, robins, wood thrushes, and cedar waxwings. The larvae of the small, blue spring azure butterfly also feed on its leaves.