I recently acquired this Roughleaf dogwood, Cornus drummondii, from a local collector. The great trunk base, taper and movement were what drew me to the tree. The styling is on its way, but there’s always more to do. So today I set out to make a few minor adjustments in advance of Spring 2020.

Beginning at the bottom, of course, the number one left-hand branch and the first back branch were ideal to wire together. Why not the number one right-hand branch along with the left-hand branch? Read on and you’ll find out below.

So the trick with both of these branches is in their positioning. They both start out fine, but since dogwoods tend to produce long arrow-straight branches, you have to introduce some movement into them. Also, both branches needed pulling down a bit, which I’ve done here. Subtle changes, but very important.

Here’s why I left that lowest right-hand branch out of the equation in that wiring job. Notice the slender shoot emerging to the left of the thicker branch? It’s actually positioned much more advantageously than the thicker one; therefore my goal for 2020 will be to remove the thicker one altogether, assuming the slim one survives winter and pushes on next year. I’ll have the opportunity to wire it and introduce movement from the start, and once it thickens up it’s going to be in just the right spot.
Another obvious problem with this tree is the very thick branch on the left side up near where the crown begins. Ideally I’d just remove it and hope for a new bud at the base. However, this is not the time of year for this sort of work. Without the strong growth of spring through early summer, there’s a pretty good chance I won’t get a bud there at all. So I’ll likely make this move in the coming year. For now, though, I trimmed it back pretty hard.

The last thing I can do today is to trim back the crown. It was a little heavy toward the right, affecting the balance of the tree, so with some judicious trimming I think I’ve succeeded for the most part in restoring the balance. I’ll need to do more next year; I’ll accomplish that by allowing the branch moving up and toward the left, where the main trunk line veers off to the right, to run and thicken.

I’d love to hear what you think of this Roughleaf dogwood. Also, I expect to have some pre-bonsai stock available next summer, so if you’d like a nice dogwood specimen let me know.