Two years ago, as I was designing my then new Terrace Garden, I asked my landscaper to plant a pink Flowering Dogwood as a centerpiece at the lower end. He warned me against that move, stating that they just aren’t reliably hardy in our neck of the woods, especially up on this hill. I was disappointed, but agreed instead to a Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa).
Here’s the tree as it stood in July 2014, just barely six feet tall:
And here it is today, considerably taller and starting to spread:(Cutting the suckers off the trunk is on my to-do list this week!)
The Missouri Botanical Garden website states that the Kousa will grow fifteen to thirty feet tall, with a similar spread. As it matures, its youthful vase-like shape will become more rounded. As my landscaper correctly noted, it is more cold-hardy than Flowering Dogwood, rated for USDA Hardiness Zones 5-8, and also more disease and pest-resistant. Last summer mine sustained some Japanese beetle damage, but it was minimal. It grows best in full sun to part shade, in well-drained, moderately moist, organically rich soil. If the summer is particularly hot and dry, it is advisable to give it extra water; otherwise leaf scorch may occur. It grows at a rate of about a foot per year.
Kousa’s leaves are a medium shade of green and ovate shaped:
Though the literature tells me that the leaves turn spectacularly red in the fall, it’s been my observation that they turn a rather UNspectacular shade of dull burgundy-brown! (Especially important where I live, Kousa Dogwood is deer resistant! These visitors sniffed it and went on their merry way. They may have eaten some of its fallen berries.)
A deciduous tree, Kousa is late to drop its leaves in the fall, and slow to leaf out again in the spring.
In late spring and early summer, after its leaves have emerged, the Kousa Dogwood sports four-inch wide white “blooms”, which are actually bracts that surround small green flowers:
Once the bracts fall, the flower matures into a berry, about an inch in diameter:
The berries gradually turn from green to pale pink, and finally cherry-red. They are supposedly edible, but I’ve not been tempted. The birds and squirrels are welcome to them!
So even though it is not what my heart truly wanted, I am very happy with this Kousa Dogwood tree!
If you have a plant you would like to profile this week, please feel free to join in! Just place a link in your post back to mine, and then leave a link to your post in the comments here. It’s fun to see what other bloggers all around the world are growing!