Cornus kousa’s fluttering canopy
Awash with delicate trembling bracts, Cornus kousa makes its presence felt in late spring
fluttering like a myriad of moths, dainty flowering bracts quiver in the May breeze above an elegant tracery of branches. As the warmer weather arrives, a captivating dogwood billows in shades of cream, pink, white and ghostly greens. Blooming from late spring into summer, it illuminates shady glades or basks in dappled sunlight. This attractive tree is Cornus kousa. Deciduous, it can reach approximately 23ft (7m) tall, spreading to 15ft (4.5m). Its many cultivars range from 8ft (2.5m) to 33ft (10m) tall for a fully mature specimen. They are, however, slow-growing, taking several decades to reach full height. The sizes of individual cultivars vary from compact ‘Snowboy’, 8ft (2.5m), to the magnificent, prolific ‘Milky Way’, 30ft (9m). With age, they tend to spread to more than 16ft (5m), the branches arching out from the base of the trunk to display the eye-catching bracts, handsome foliage and raspberry-like fruit. “There’s a cultivar to suit any size of garden,” says Ed Round, who cares for a National Plant Collection of Cornus established by the late Robin Compton in his garden at Newby Hall, Yorkshire. “Whatever the size, they are always elegant, never dishevelled, and easy to grow in the right conditions.”
From top to bottom: Blotches of colour form on ‘John Slocock’; the leaves of pink ‘Beni-fuji’ have red stems and midribs; a mass of creamy ‘China Girl’ bracts. Spectacular ‘Milky Way’, named for its proliferation of starry white bracts (far left).