its because we live in a damp part of
the world but usually when I suggest cornus
in a planting scheme Im told that the
red and yellow stemmed types are already planted.
There are many
other species, some with spectacular flowers
equal to any magnolia.
Quite often I do recommend the dogwoods. They
are foolproof and succeed in wet ground where
many other plants would fail. The secret is
to coppice them every spring cutting the stems
hard to within a few
inches of the ground. The new growths will have
excellent bark colour. Cornus alba and its varieties
will be red with Cornus stolonifera Flaviramea
yellow or pale green.
mas, the Cornelian cherry, will form a good
sized tree if not pruned. The tiny yellow flowers
are produced on the bare stems in February followed
by edible, bright red berries. The leaves colour
in autumn. The variety C.m.Macrocarpa has larger
fruit. Cornus canadiensis is sometimes referred
to as the creeping dogwood. It enjoys
a well drained, open soil rich in humus. The
stems spread over the ground carpeting large
areas with small white, summer
flowers followed by masses of bright red fruit.
is the flowering dogwood of North
America. It forms a bushy tree with 4 petal-like
white bracts which flowerin May.
When grown in an acid soil, the leaves turn
to a brilliant red in autumn. The variety C.f.Cloud
Nine flowers as a young plant. Cornus kousa
is a memorable sight in June with its large,
conspicuous, white bracts standing on long stems
all along the sweeping branches and followed
by strawberry-like fruit. The autumn leaf colour
is excellent when grown in acid soil.
C.Norman Hadden forms a tree. When mature the
attractive bark starts to peel. It flowers in
early summer with its creamy white bracts turning
dark pink with age. The strawberry-like fruit
hang in clusters. In cold areas the autumn leaves
colour well and drop. Where there is shelter
the plant may remain evergreen. C.nuttallii
North Star. In mild areas this
variety will form a medium sized tree. The 6
petaled white bracts age to pink with the stems
of young shoots deep purple.
Variegata is my favourite so I have kept it
to last. The flowers are not large but cover
the branches in May in creamy-white clusters
followed by small black berries. The small leaves
beautifully margined with silver. Often referred
to as the wedding cake tree the
branches form horizontal tiers as though they
have been trained. The next time you think of
a cornus think again and again.