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Thursday, March 11, 2004

Spring is breaking in the Carolinas 

I haven't posted any notes in the last few days because I've been traveling. I left the warm south and traveled up the east coast to North Carolina where the temperature was about 25-30 degrees lower than my hometown. While I shivered in my boots and prayed that the forecasted snow would miss its intended path (it did, thank goodness), I was still awed by the beginnings of spring I noticed everywhere.

The air was crisp but contained that quality that indicates warmer weather is on the way. The trees were just beginning to bud, and I saw some crocuses starting to peak out. My taxi driver was very excited to tell me about the dogwood trees lining the route to the airport and the various colors they would bring in the next few weeks.

In my former home up north, I was lucky enough to tend a pink flowering dogwood tree. Each spring it would reward us with the most beautiful rosy pink bracts I had ever seen. Shortly thereafter, it would offer shade to sit and contemplate my next plantings. I really miss that tree and the years we spent making that garden an extension of ourselves. But we're doing the same here and I'll have many upcoming stories to share.

Cornus florida is a flowering dogwood tree native to the eastern United States. The tree can reach as high as 40 feet, but is generally in the 20-30 feet range. Dogwood trees are covered with flowers in midspring before their oval leaves come forward. Leaves are 2-6 inches long and about 2 1/2 inches wide, bright green above and lighter on the underside.

Flowering dogwood grows well in full sun but should be planted in deep, fertile soil that retains moisture. Zones will vary by species. For more growing tips, I recommend visiting Clemson's Home and Garden Information Center. A great purchasing resource is Nature Hills Nursery. Happy Gardening and remember, Spring is just around the corner.

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Thanks to Andrew Stenning who contributed the photograph for our masthead

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