The Teddington Gardener

More strange fruit… Cornus kousa ‘John Slocock’

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The kousa dogwood – 

– a most elegant dogwood, but often lost in the landscape shadow of Cornus florida. For many parts of the country however (referring to the US), C kousa is probably a better choice. In youth the habit is stiffly upright, almost vase-shaped, but with age it becomes rounded to broad-spreading, with distinct horizontal branches. Multicoloured mosaics of grey, tan, and rich brown develop on older trunks, and the jigsaw-puzzle-like pattern becomes graphically evident when the bark is wet. The dark green 2- to 4″ long leaves are slightly smaller than those of C florida and may develop respectable deep red autumn colour. The creamy-white 2″- to 4″ wide flowers, which are composed of long pointed bracts, open two to three weeks later than those of C florida. Raspberry-shaped 0.5 to 1″ wide, red fruit appear in September and October. Prefers moist, acid, well-drained soils, in sun or partial shade, although it is probably more adaptable to extremes of soil than C florida. Makes a choice specimen plant and can be incorporated into borders and used in groupings. Resistant to Discula destructiva, the organism that causes dogwoods anthracnose. Grows 20 to 30′ high and wide.

An extract (above) from Michael Dirr’s Encyclopedia of Trees & Shrubs

(Below) Looking across the Bowes Lyon Rose Garden to this particular Cornus kousa specimen, in full flower, earlier in the summer at RHS Wisley

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This particular specimen of ‘John Slocock’, shown first in fruit, is living very happily on the lower slopes of the Bowes Lyons Rose Garden at RHS Wisley, and is a swarm of flower in early summer and just now, is weighed down with fruit. A small (young), beautiful, elegantly shaped tree with such a lot of charm. On the photograph above, taken in June this year, look out for the diminutive, spreading white-bedecked tree on the right hand side, just above the path (and in the shadow of a graceful mature specimen).

The following pictures were taken at Newby Hall in Yorkshire this summer – a fine collection of kousa dogwoods and perhaps even a National Collection?

http://www.visityork.org/thedms.aspx?dms=13&feature=1028&venue=1587256

Newby Hall’s National Collection of Cornus was started by Mr Robin Compton VMH in 1990. He was an astute Plantsman with a particular passion for trees and shrubs and was already familiar with the genus Cornus. The collection began its life after Mr Compton moved a struggling Cornus florida Rubra Group from near the hall and replanted it in what subsequently became Cornus Bed 1. The specimen responded by growing well, and the collection was born. His father Major Compton had been growing the most worthy species such as Cornus kousa & mas for many years – the oldest example is the fine Cornus kousa on the south-east corner of Cornus Bed 1 planted in 1937.

We now have an extensive and diverse collection of over 100 individual specimens with 30 species represented by 76 different hybrids and forms.

The Cornus Trail Booklet – New for 2011, has been put together to show the amazing diversity of this varied genus of shrubs and small trees. When considering Dogwoods most people tend to think of small shrubs grown primarily for their stunning show of coloured winter stems. Our National Collection is, however composed of the lesser known, but equally stunning range of Cornus known collectively as ‘Flowering Dogwoods’. These are varied, the majority producing flowers consisting of four or more bracts – looking very much like petals encircling a small head of greenish flowers. Others produce more showy true flowers in small heads of white or yellow.

This booklet contains just a small selection of the plants we grow, and throughout this guided walk, you may well notice more Cornus species, hybrids and cultivars.

Copies of the Cornus trail booklet has been put together by the gardening team and is available in the Entrance Pavilion.

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