There are over 45 species of Cornus, but here we are looking at those which produce the brightly coloured winter stems. These are C. alba, sanguinea, and sericea, all of which are commonly called Dogwoods.
Dogwoods are deciduous shrubs, with attractive variegated foliage illustrated above left. The leaves turn a stunning red in autumn as shown in the centre image, and the stems provide strong winter colour, image right.
We cultivate dogwoods for their colourful winter stems, in shades of bright red, yellow, orange, throughout the winter.
To get the best effect, plant a group 3/4/5+ together. To show off the coloured stems at their best plant Cornus where they will be back lit by the low winter sun, or the sun will strike the red stems.
Popular are: Cornus alba 'Sibirica', illustrated right, which has strong red stems, C. sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' which has orange stems and Cornus sericea 'Flaviramea' with yellow stems.
This group of Cornus will grow in any type of soil, in sun or partial shade, although to get the best winter stem colour grow in full sun. Dogwoods are a tough, grow anywhere shrub and this includes moist and damp soil. I have some growing alongside a stream in very boggy conditions. I have also seen them growing well in supermarket landscaping on poor soil and with little or no attention, still looking good.
Crocus has a good selection of Winter Dogwoods.(affiliate link.)