Dogwoods Bloom, and Music Echoes

Pink 'Cornus florida' cultivars

hide captionPink Cornus florida cultivars drinking up the sun at a Portland, Ore., nursery.

Ketzel Levine, NPR
Cornus nuttallii

hide captionThe five-petaled flower of a Pacific dogwood, Cornus nuttallii.

Ketzel Levine, NPR

Music for Dogwoods

Here's the music our experts imagined as the voice of the dogwood:

Listen: Faure: "Romance Sans Paroles, Op.17, #3" Kathryn Stott, pianist

Listen: Rachmaninoff's "Prelude in G Major, Op.32, #5" Megan Hughes, pianist

Listen: Mozart: "Concerto in A Major for Clarinet & Orchestra," Benny Goodman/Boston Symphony/Charles Munch

Listen: Copland's "Appalachian Spring"

A predictable, yet wondrous, event has begun around the country: the American dogwood is in bloom. This ancient creature, which is native to both coasts, has changed little since the time of the dinosaurs.

The brief flowering of the dogwoods can elicit thoughts of music: the blossoms build slowly to a crescendo, and then fade into the background for another year. To many, their more muted display only increases their sentimental appeal.

NPR's Ketzel Levine consulted several experts — on music, and flowers — to learn what kind of music they hear when they view dogwoods in bloom.

From Dogwoods: The Genus Cornus by Paul Cappiello and Don Shadow:

Growing Dogwoods in the Garden

Cultural management is the bane of the flowering dogwood's existence. The tree does best in moist, acidic soil in a site with a touch of afternoon shade. It will perform admirably in full sun with adequate moisture, but who can be trusted to provide adequate water? Can you just hear it now, "I promise, honey, I'll water it twice a week . . . !"

Books Featured In This Story


The Genus Cornus

by Don Shadow and Paul Cappiello

Hardcover, 224 pages | purchase


Purchase Featured Books

  • Dogwoods
  • The Genus Cornus
  • Don Shadow and Paul Cappiello
The American Woodland Garden
The American Woodland Garden

Capturing the Spirit of the Deciduous Forest

by Rick Darke

Hardcover, 377 pages | purchase


Purchase Featured Books

  • The American Woodland Garden
  • Capturing the Spirit of the Deciduous Forest
  • Rick Darke



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: