We continue our series highlighting trees that work for gardens in Edmonds. It’s presented by Master Gardener Barbara Chase, who serves on the Edmonds Tree Board.
Most gardeners have experienced great blooms on their trees and shrubs this year. Dogwoods have been no exception. In early May the eastern dogwood (cornus florida) began its show. What we see as flowers are actually bracts which can range from white to soft pink to red. Their spectacular beauty in bloom makes these dogwood s a popular choice. They are usually 20-30 feet tall.
The native dogwood, cornus nuttallii also blooms in early spring. It grows quite tall and has large white bracts. Unfortunately both the eastern (cornus florida) and our native cornus nuttallii (50 feet tall and 20 feet wide)are susceptible to the fungus anthracnose, which causes leaf damage, stem cankers and decline of the tree. Quite often after the blooms fade the gardener is left with an unattractive tree for much of the season.
Cornus kousa blooms later in May and has heavy flowering. The dense white bracts bloom above the leaves. In late summer and fall red fruits appear and hang below the branches. There are many white varieties such as “Milky Way.” Satomi is one variety which has rose red bracts. Fortunately Kousa Dogwood is quite resistant to anthracnose.
Because of the beauty and desirability of dogwoods, hybridizers have worked hard to develop dogwoods which are more resistant to disease.
“Eddies’s White Wonder” is a cross between c. florida and c. nuttalli. Many other crosses have used cornus kousa to develop beautiful disease-resistant trees. A group of trees called cornus x rutgersensis or Stellar Dogwood have produced some beautiful trees which bloom between the early spring cornus florida and the later cornus kousa. They grow to about 20 feet tall and 25-30 feet wide with great fall color. “Aurora” and “Stardust” have white bracts; “Stellar Pink” produces pink bracts.
Dogwoods have much to offer in the Northwest garden. Think about where a dogwood would add great beauty to your garden. Choose carefully and you will have many years of enjoyment