25 x 18 in | 63.5 x 45.7 cm
Many landscape painters love this little shrub for the accent it gives to winter scenes. The new twigs provide dramatic exclamation points of brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges that stick out from the snow at every angle. In summer the dark green, velvety leaves, add considerably to its beauty but they hide the colors of the branches. However, if you happen to see one in early spring, in the few short days that the buds are first opening, you will be treated to a rare combination of the best of both seasons—the dazzling colors of the branches decorated with new leaves, bursting out like green fountains. The fuzzy new leaves shine white like sprays of water when they catch the light.
A typical landscape composition, executed from a distance, would miss these dramatic effects. To appreciate the wild tangle of colors you have to be close enough to touch the branches. I remember thinking that weavers must feel like this when they make complex textiles. I love the complexity of nature. If I tried to make this up out of my head, it would look a whole lot more regular.
In Northeastern North America, where this shrub is common, it is referred to as Red Osier Dogwood. The word “Osier” is an ancient word for a number of shrubs with pliable shoots used in basketry. In this case I prefer the botanical name, Cornus stolonifera. “Cornus” comes from the Latin word Cornu for “horn.” “Horn-like” is a perfect description of the hard wood and twigs that often curl up like horns on some species of dogwood. And “Stolonifera” explains why it always seems to grow in thickets. It spreads by prostrate runners called “stolons.” The French name, Cornouiller Stolonifere, follows the Latin closely, as it often does. There is another reason to prefer the French name in this particular plant. It lives in Cap Tourmante, in Quebec.