The story goes that President Ronald Reagan was riding his horse in the vicinity of Camp David, noticed that all the wild dogwoods were dying and asked for an explanation. The response from government botanists was that the beloved dogwood, that living symbol of the American spring with its stellar white blossoms, was in dire straits. A fungal disease named dogwood anthracnose was sickening and ultimately killing the flowering dogwoods in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountain Park. Soon it would spread far and wide,

from native populations to dogwood varieties in gardens. A generation ago, it seemed that the dogwood might go the way of the American chestnut, rendered practically extinct by a new disease. But here’s the good news: The dogwood tree lives on in the form of new varieties and hybrids developed to resist the disease as well as a newer and entirely different ailment named powdery mildew. Many of these introductions bring new ornamental qualities that offer additional reasons to reacquaint yourself with this tree. MORE