EVER-CHANGING GARDEN TREE FOR ALL SEASONS
Blossoming until the longest day and even beyond, the kousa dogwood earns its place in the garden all year long. “Flowering dogwoods look good in every season, even in winter, when mature specimens reveal a tiered, cloud-pruned silhouette,” says Ed Round who tends Newby Hall’s Cornus collection. Its edible fruits develop in late summer, giving rise to another common name, the Szechuan strawberry. Varying from red to dark orange or even pink, each fruit measures approximately 1in (2.5cm) in diameter. The flesh within is yellowish, sometimes sweet, but often dry, and reports suggest they are an acquired taste. Curiously on some cultivars, the stem elongates as the fruit develops. Come late autumn, some dogwoods produce scintillating autumn foliage, before tumbling earthwards. Cornus kousa turns crimson purple, while its fiery cultivar ‘Fireworks’ ends the year in a blaze of gold and red, and ‘Miss Satomi’ bears purple and deep-red leaves. Once the leaves have fallen, the bark really comes into its own. On young trees, the tree trunk tends to be smooth and uniform, but with age, it becomes weathered, and flaky plates drop off, revealing areas beneath that are subtly shaded with grey and copper. The leafless silhouette of a kousa dogwood makes a striking addition to the winter garden, with its balanced arrangement of shapely branches, some arching, while others are horizontally tiered.
After the flowering season ends, strawberry-like fruit bring later colour.
Bobbled fruits hang from elongated stems, and leaves take on flaming hues as the year progresses.