Posted by: Ed Darrell | March 28, 2012

Dogwood blossoms in Dallas County! Go see

Dogwoods like moist areas, cool in the spring, with slightly acidic soils.  Dallas County, up on the Austin Chalk Escarpment, is hot and dry with alkaline soils.

Consequently, the discovery of a stand of dogwoods stunned and excited Dallas naturalists and gardeners.  The Audubon Society found a number of other unique features in the plants and animals around the dogwoods, and bought up surrounding land to create a special preserve.  That is now the Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center, in Cedar Hill, about a ten-minute drive from Molina High School.

It was billed as a “hike” that might take 2.5 hours, but David Hurt, the grand benefactor of Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center, was the guide — at the two hour mark we had just ambled to the blossoming trees in their still-semi-secret location. Amble, not a hike.

Great day to be outside.

Dogwood Canyon's benefactor David Hurt - 03-25-2012 import 672

The voyage is at least half the fun.

Dogwood Canyon's benefactor David Hurt - 03-25-2012 import 672

After more than a year of serious drought, some of North Texas experienced high rainfall in the past three months. Spring-fed streams and seeps on Cedar Hill and across the Escarpment flow well for the moment, lending hope to wild bird breeding. On some entangled bank . . .

David Hurt demonstrating plant differences, Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center - 03-25-2012 import 688 - photo by Ed Darrell
Poison ivy along the trail, Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center - 03-25-2012 import 697 - Photo by Ed Darrell, use permitted with attribution

Poison ivy along the trail. Keep away.

David Hurt demonstrates differences in oaks, 03-25-2012 import 694 - photo by Ed Darrell

Is it eastern red oak, or something else? How to tell?

David Hurt demonstrates how yellow-cheeked warblers use Ashe junipers to nest - 03-25-2012 import 708 - photo by Ed Darrell

Hurt showed how to make a nest from loose bark strips from Ashe juniper trees. Golden-cheeked warblers, a threatened species, require this bark for nesting, and it can come only from mature Ashe junipers. The birds need this nesting material close to a good stand of deciduous trees, where they catch their food.

Dogwood blossom at Dogwood Canyon, Cedar Hill, Texas 03-25-2012 import 737 - Photo by Ed Darrell, use permitted with attribution

The dogwoods in bloom! An early spring, and lots of water, pushed the trees to leaf out before blossoming started -- usually the blossoms come first. The drought last year probably hurts blossoming this year. Blossoms are not yet at their peak.

Dogwood blossoms, Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center 03-25-2012 import 744 - phot by Ed Darrell

Exquisite aroma and beauty from the dogwood blossoms - not the carpet of white we saw in a previous year. Still just the shock of finding these little beauties in Dallas County adds to their splendor. Dogwoods do well in East Texas, where it is wetter and the soil is acid. Here on the escarpment it is generally dry, hotter, and the soil is thin and alkaline. That the blossoms show up at all is a stunning oddity, a stroke of fortune emblematic of the unique place that is Dogwood Canyon.

Guided hikes — the only way to get to see the blossoms — are planned for Wednesday and Saturday this week. Hikes are limited to 20 people, with two planned for Wednesday, and one for Saturday, March 31. For reservations call Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center at (469) 526-1980.

More, Resources:

This post was adapted with express permission from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.


  1. I love the outdoors

  2. This is cool, yet very rare!

  3. I would like to visit…it looks so peaceful but I’m afraid to touch the poison ivy.

    • Stick to the trail, learn to identify poison ivy, wash well when you get home. It’s well worth the minor risk.

  4. That’s ridiculous, i would get all itchy just knowing theres bugs and grass around me…would love to go! I haven’t learned to identify poison ivy. It will probably be too late when I do. O.O

  5. This is very Intresting!
    I didn’t know we had this around us.
    i would love to go check this out sometime soon.

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