Bergeson Compact Dogwood
About 20 years ago, I took a road trip to NW Minnesota for the purpose of visiting numerous nurseries/garden centers along the way. At the time, I was living in Minnesota and employed at a large bare-root nursery. Hence this was supposed to be a business trip not a plant collecting foray. Sometimes the best of plans work out differently.
One of my stops was at Bergeson Nursery in Fertile, Minnesota. Paul Bergeson was gracious enough to show me around the nursery started by his father Melvin. After we finished our business matters, Paul told me about a wonderful red-stemmed dogwood they had selected from the wild near Fertile, MN. Bergeson Nursery was growing it on a very limited scale. Paul felt it had so many good attributes that a large wholesale nursery should start growing it. They had named it Gary Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea ‘Gary’).
I took a few small liners of this plant back for trial and found that Paul was correct. This dogwood was far better than the current popular dwarf red twigged dogwood on the market (Isanti). It had great horizontal branching, a nice purple fall leaf color, and showed high resistance to leaf spot (unlike Isanti which often defoliates in summer from this fungal issue). It has a compact growth habit and usually grows 5’-6’ tall.
The nursery I was working at during that time propagated and sold this plant. However it did not sell as well as anticipated. Since the plant was not trademarked or patented, I decided to change the name to Bergeson Compact Dogwood. No offence to Gary, but I felt this name would work better as Bergeson Nursery was well known throughout Minnesota so the plant would have better name recognition. Bergeson Nursery had been in business a long time and had introduced Red Splendor Crabapple. Since then, they have also introduced several more great plant selections.
My idea worked! Sales on this excellent selection really increased. Paul Bergeson called me and asked if this was the same dogwood he gave me as ‘Gary Redtwig’? He agreed that Bergeson Compact Dogwood was a better name.
Sjulin Nursery in Hamburg, Iowa purchased a few Bergeson Compact Dogwoods from me to test. Eric was so impressed that soon he was propagating and selling them too. From there, this selection spread to many nurseries in the U.S. who now propagate and offer it for sale.
I am happy to announce that Johnson’s Nursery grows Bergeson Compact Dogwood. For 2010 we will have them in #5 containers. When you need a dwarf red twigged dogwood, keep this selection in mind. Its superior leafspot resistance makes it a much better choice than the popular ‘Isanti’. Congratulations to the Bergeson's for being such great plantsmen in selecting this fine introduction.
Paul Schwabe is a salesman in our Contractor Sales division. He holds a degree in horticulture and will be writing about some of his favorite and underused plants.