Plant of the Week: Midwinter Fire Bloodtwig Dogwood

Photo by Joan Garvin

The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 300 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees – each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today.

This week we share one of our gardeners’ current favorites with you.

The vibrant red-orange and yellow young stems of Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ – Midwinter Fire bloodtwig dogwood – are a welcome sight among the subdued hues of winter.

The cultivar Midwinter Fire bloodtwig dogwood is a deciduous, suckering shrub that typically grows five feet tall and wide. Cornus sanguinea is native to Europe where it is often used in hedgerows. In midsummer it produces small, white, hermaphroditic flowers that bloom in flat-topped clusters and ripen to dark, purplish berries. Ovate green leaves turn golden yellow for a splendid autumn display. Stems from the shrub dogwood are tough and durable – used for arrows and tool handles – and young stems are often used to brighten indoor arrangements.

Photo by Beverly Israely

To maximize the illuminating effect of Midwinter Fire bloodtwig dogwood, prune stems down to the ground every two to three years in late winter or early spring before the buds open. The new slender stems will provide the best color the following year, as color fades each year on older stems. Bloodtwig dogwood prefers to grow in sun to part shade, in moist, well-draining soils. The plant is quite tolerant of urban environments.


Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ lights up the garden beds along the High Line at 10th Avenue Square, at West 17th Street, and in the Chelsea Thicket, between West 21st and 22nd Streets.

Download our January bloom list

Our horticultural team counts on members and friends like you to help keep the High Line beautiful and thriving. Join our community of supporters who play an essential role in the High Line’s most important gardening projects – become a member of Friends of the High Line today!

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