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Legend of the Dogwood Tree - Make Your Own Flowers!

Branch of a Dogwood Tree - Photo: FloraQueen.com

The dogwood tree is a pretty amazing tree. The Cornus genus consists of 30-60 different species of dogwoods which grow all over the planet. Throughout history, humans have used dogwoods for a wide variety of things. Among the indigenous people of North America the bark of Cornus Florida, the flowering dogwood, was made into medicinal teas to treat fevers and malaria. The Kousa dogwood (Cornus Kousa) native to Asia produces an edible red fruit that is widely sought after among foragers. At a glance it might even be mistaken for the legendary Ope Ope fruit (One Piece). The wood of the dogwood is a dense hard wood and has long been used to make handles for spindles, chisels, and mallets. It is such a hard wood, however, that it dulls most saws and tools that try to work on it.

I moved houses quite a bit when I was growing up. Yet at every single house I have ever lived in, my parents would always plant the same kinds of trees. There would be at least a couple of maple trees, a redwood tree, several rhododendrons, and a dogwood. I always loved the dogwood trees because they absolutely explode in a riot of blooms every spring. Nothing will stop a dogwood from blooming.

When I was a kid I once read a story about the dogwood and why it grows positively everywhere. It was in a collection of “how and why” tales from Medieval Europe (unfortunately I can no longer recall the title of the book). Here is how the story went:

Legend of the Dogwood Tree

Dogwood Flower - Photo: Joey Williamson

The dogwood was a mighty tree as strong and straight as the oak. The wood was chosen to make Jesus' cross. The tree wept in despair at being used for such a purpose. Jesus was touched. After the Crucifixion, God promised that the tree would never again be used in such a fashion but would remind the world of Jesus' sacrifice each year. The tree grew small and its branches became twisty, no longer straight and powerful. Each flower was white, with four petals, each tip looked stabbed through and torn with a bloody nail. In the center of each flower was a golden crown of thorns. It would bloom every Easter until trees bloomed no more. In autumn, the leaves look drenched in blood before they fall to remind the world of the sacred blood shed.

Dogwood Leaves: Adrienne Legault

Crafting a Felt Dogwood Flower

With Easter right around the corner I thought I would share the tale. Today, I no longer have a dogwood tree outside the house. Spring will be here in a mere two days and I miss seeing the cascade of white blossoms dancing on the wind. So I figured, why not make at least one dogwood flower out of felt.

If you would like to join me, here is what you will need:

1 Piece of White Felt
1 Piece of Yellow Felt
1 Piece of Brown Felt
Red Marker
Black Marker
Hot Glue Gun

As this craft uses scissors and a hot glue gun, adult supervision is required.

This was a very simple craft that takes roughly 15 minutes. I used felt, however fabric, construction paper, or tissue paper could be used. My felt sheets are the same size as a piece of paper and cost $0.33 each at the local craft store. They are made of recycled plastic which I love since it is a way to make something beautiful out of old pop bottles.

First, I took my white felt sheet and folded it in half, hamburger style. Then I cut it.

 Second, I took the two cut white piece and folded them in half, hamburger style. I then cut them. I cut them one at a time as felt can be tricky to cut cleanly. This left me with four cut quarters of white felt.

 Third, I took the white felt quarter and folded it in half lengthwise. I did not cut this in half. Instead, I drew half of an oval with a black marker to make my petal pattern. I cut along my line with the felt folded. I repeated this on each of the four quarters. It is okay if the ovals are not identical. I think it gives the final dogwood flower a bit of character.

 I laid out the four petals on the brown felt piece to see how the flower was turning out. Technically, these are modified leaves called “bracts” and not true petals. But I like to think of them as petals.

 Fourth, I turned to the yellow felt piece and folded a piece about an inch wide. I did not need a bunch, just a little strip of yellow to be my crown of flowers. Just like how the white part is actually leaves, the yellow cluster in the center of the dogwood is actually a spray of teeny tiny golden flowers.

 Fifth, I took the yellow strip and cut off thin chunks. My chunks were about 1/8th inch wide. I wanted eight small pieces of yellow felt. From the strip I was cutting, I also cut out a small circle to be my center. The circle was about the size of a nickel.

Sixth, I took the white “petals” off the layout and folded them in half lengthwise, again. With the black marker I drew a tiny half circle up at the tip. Then I cut that part off. This is the torn looking notch.

 Seventh, with a red marker I gently colored the cut notch.

 Eighth, I cracked out the hot glue gun and started going to town. Each of the white bracts was glued to the brown background. It is absolutely fine that they were overlapping each other, many dogwood flowers do the same. I glued the yellow circle to the center.

 Ninth, I got out the eight little yellow rays that I had cut and started gluing them around the center circle. I wanted them to be fairly evenly spaced, so I glued them in an X to start and then filled in the in between with more rays.

 Tenth, I signed the piece with the black marker and then took it around to show everyone how it had turned out!


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