Forenoon under the Dogwoods

Copyright © 2011 Deborah M. Zajac.  All Rights Reserved.

The Dogwoods are blooming in the mountains so a friend and I went on a day trip up to see and photograph them.

Our journey took us to Calaveras Big Trees California State Park. The ranger told us the North Grove was probably at peak bloom, and the South Grove was already showing signs it was past peak, so we went straight to the North Grove.

I hadn’t been to this park in many years. It’s a beautiful park with a lovely ancient Redwood forest with Giant Sequoia, and Coast Redwoods. There is a very famous tree stump here it’s as big a room. These colossal trees can reach up to 325ft tall, and have a diameter of 33ft! Some of these trees are thought to be 2,000 years old.

Growing all around these beautiful trees are Dogwoods. The forest floor is full of new Dogwoods with their slender trunks and delicate branches.

We didn’t find many low blossoms on the day we went. The blossoms were high in the canopy where the sunshine hits the trees first.

Our explorations took us up to the North Grove Overlook trail. We hiked up about a mile, and it was here we found some new blossoms which were low enough to photograph some close-ups.

There is a Christian legend about 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.

Additional Tree Facts:

The species of dogwood tree that is native to California is the Pacific or Western dogwood (C. nuttallii). It is one of the tallest of the dogwoods and one that produces the most blooms. Its natural habitat ranges from southern British Columbia in Canada to the southernmost parts of California and as far as 200 miles inland.


The branches of the Western dogwood, which can grow horizontally as well and vertically, form a thick crown that can be round or cone-shaped. The tree can grow from 15 to 40 feet tall, or be trimmed to grow as a hedge. It produces white flowers that can have a touch of pink and are larger than the flowers of other dogwood species, and orange-red berries. The green leaves turn yellow/orange in the fall and then fall off.

Uses and Benefits

The California dogwood will attract birds and wildlife. It can be used as a standalone lawn plant, grown as a hedge or as part of a wind break.

Tree facts obtained from Sunset Garden Books


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