Dogwoods are a lovely group of deciduous shrubs, many have delicate variegated foliage as illustrated above. In addition, the leaves turn a stunning red in autumn, and some varieties have colourful bracts and stems providing strong winter colour. There are about 45 species in the genus, just a few illustrated are here.
Those grown for their colourful winter stems throughout the winter look fabulous planted as a group. Most popular is the Cornus alba 'Sibirica' illustrated above which has strong red stems and good autumn colour. Also Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' which has orange stems and Cornus sericea 'Flaviramea' with yellow stems.
This group of Cornus will grow in moist soil and look good alongside a stream. For best effect in the winter to display the red stems, plant Cornus where they will be either back lit by the low winter sun, or the sun will strike the red stems.
Cornus is easy to grow shrub with a preference for sun to produce the best colour, but tolerant of most conditions. Cornus will thrive in damp soil which makes it an ideal shrub for planting streamside or alongside a pond in damp soil.
This type of cornus is cut back hard in early spring (after the first year or two so the shrub is established) to just a few centimetres as per the image below. This helps to ensure good colour in the winter stems the following year. Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' is said to be less vigorous, and as such should not be pruned so hard. Cornus need no real attention; plant and they will grow. To keep the stems in really good colour, Dogwoods do best if cut back almost to the ground in March which looks savage at the time, but they quickly grow back. It also means you have a clump of lovely red coloured peas stick /small plant supports for the coming growing season.