Cor­nus kousa’s flut­ter­ing canopy

Awash with del­i­cate trem­bling bracts, Cor­nus kousa makes its pres­ence felt in late spring

Landscape (UK) - - Contents -

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).

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