Dogwood blossoms, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Dogwood blossoms, Yosemite Valley, from April 21st, 2007

Last year the dogwoods in Yosemite Valley bloomed two or three weeks sooner than normal. This year they seem to be on a more typical timetable, but may still arrive a bit early.

Claudia and I were in Yosemite Valley on Tuesday afternoon, and saw the first signs of the dogwoods blooming. When dogwood blossoms first appear they’re small and green. Over the course of about a week or so they gradually become larger and brighter until they turn completely white. (Except for the centers, which become yellow-green. Those centers are the real flowers; the white “petals” are actually bracts.) On Tuesday there were lots of green blossoms, and only a few white ones. We didn’t see a single tree with all-white blossoms, only a few that were partially white. But that should change pretty quickly. There should be a few trees with all-white blossoms by this weekend, and I’d guess that the majority will be in full bloom by the end of next week.

Dogwoods bloom for a long time. An individual tree might bloom for three weeks or more, and since different trees start blooming at different times the overall event can last for a month. But toward the end of their bloom the blossoms look rather ragged, and the trees leaf out, hiding the flowers somewhat. So dogwoods are most photogenic when the blossoms first turn fully white, but before the leaves get too big. If I’m forced to guess at this point, I’d say that most of the Yosemite Valley trees will reach that point around the weekend of the 23rd and 24th. But that’s just a guess!

— Michael Frye

Related Posts: Redbuds and Poppies; A Good Year for Dogwoods

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Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, Yosemite Meditations for Adventurers, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. He has also written three eBooks: Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, Exposure for Outdoor Photography, and Landscapes in Lightroom: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.