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story.lead_photo.caption The rough-leaf dogwood, Cornus drummondii, is a small, native, understory tree. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)

Q We really enjoy your columns and are learning a lot about plants and gardening in Northwest Arkansas from them. We're in the Eureka Springs area, and these are a couple of photos from an understory tree by our driveway. It blooms in late May/early June every year, and we can't figure out what kind of tree it is. We have a lot of trees on our property, but only one of these. Could you please help identify it?

A You have one of the less familiar species of dogwoods that are native to our state. I would say this one is the rough-leaf dogwood, Cornus drummondii. Most people think of the larger flowering dogwood as the only dogwood, but there are several species of dogwoods that are small understory trees, and they have clusters of white flowers like this one. The berries that your tree produces will be white and are loved by many birds and wildlife.

Q I have a plant that I just identified as a rose campion. It is blooming now with a brilliant magenta flower. This plant stayed green although the foliage was small, all winter. I am wondering if it will produce seeds so I can harvest them and start more flowers? I have no idea where I bought this to begin with.

A Rose campion, or Lychnis coronaria, is a wonderful pass-along plant. Don't deadhead it (remove the spent flowers) because it can freely reseed. It tends to move around in the garden. You will notice the rosette of silver foliage long before the blooms come on. While the magenta color is the most common, there is also a white-flowering form. It does well in full sun to partial shade.

Q I first saw a button bush by the stream near War Eagle Mill. I had never seen so many butterflies in one place! It was 5 or 6 feet tall. So, I figured out what it was. The only one I could find to buy was small. I planted it last year. It froze to the ground last winter. It came back this spring and is about a foot tall now. Will it ever get much taller? I don't see how it can if it starts over every spring.

Gallery: In the Garden

A I would not judge your plant's winter hardiness by this year. Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) is hardy up into New England, so I don't think it will freeze back to the ground often in Arkansas. We had a very unusual first frost last year, dropping much colder, much earlier than normal. Plants that had not gotten ready for dormancy took a hit. The fact that yours had been newly planted might have added to the problem. Buttonbush is a fabulous native plant that loves moist areas — that is why it was near a stream at War Eagle. It will grow in full sun to partial shade and can reach 10 feet tall or more but equally as wide. Some newer varieties are a bit more compact. The bees, butterflies and hummingbirds adore this plant. I think the little round flowers look like space objects. The small round fruits persist into the winter.

Q I started this Bonfire peach from seed and need help shaping it into a tree. Should I prune two of the three branches and shape the remaining one into a trunk? The straightest branch is also the smallest; the largest is rather curved. Since it has to be moved, should I reshape it at the same time?

A I am very impressed that you got that from seed. Peaches are normally propagated vegetatively — cuttings or grafting to get the same genetics. Seed-grown plants are usually a gamble since they don't usually breed true from seed — cross-pollination comes into play. The Bonfire peach is a beautiful dwarf ornamental peach with stunning dark red foliage that it keeps all season. I think you need to decide what you want the plant to look like as it grows. I would say it is normally grown as a small tree, with one straight trunk that the branches are generated from. If you have room to maintain this form, I think it is kind of fun, and you would have three trunks growing outward. In time you might decide to remove one or two of them, but that would be your preference. Ornamental peaches are not the longest-lived trees in our gardens, but while this one is here, it is a beautiful plant, and it can produce tiny peaches.

Retired after 38 years with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Janet Carson ranks among Arkansas' best known horticulture experts. Her blog is at Write to her at P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, AR 72203 or email

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HomeStyle on 06/06/2020

Print Headline: In the Garden

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