Cornus kousa, the well-known flowering Japanese dogwood, is wonderful hardy shrub-like small tree. Suitable for growing in the warmer gardens throughout the UK. The outstanding feature of the flowering dogwoods is their showy four-petaled flowers which appear in late spring. The flowers themselves are actually tiny and inconspicuous, the petals in fact being bracts which are coloured from white to cream and varying shades of pink. Cornus kousa has simple oval leaves which can be variable in colour, often with cream or golden-yellow variation. There are many forms of Cornus kousa, all sharing one distinguishing characteristic which is their outstanding autumn colour, with leaves changing into a range of intense reds, purples and oranges.
We like to treat Japanese flowering dogwoods as we would a Japanese Maple, so plant them in deep fertile soil, ideally adding some ericaceous or acidic compost, in a sheltered position away from cold, drying winds. Varieties with simple green leaves can be planted in full sun, whilst we recommend the variegated forms are best suited to dapped shade.During hot summers, Cornus kousa produces large red strawberry-like fruits which hang attractively from the dainty branches. The berries themselves are actually edible but often slightly bitter to taste. It's also worth noting that the leaves are also edible.
At Big Plant Nursery we love Cornus kousa and have selected a number of forms that we feel are particularly beautiful and worth a try in your garden. Cornus kousa 'Big Apple' produces fresh green foliage turning deep purple and red in the autumn. Although Cornus kousa 'Big Apple' is a small to medium sized Cornus, it is broad spreading and slightly more shrub-like, reaching 3 meters after 10 years. During late spring it produces masses of large white flower-bracts but its main feature is the extremely large strawberry-like edible fruits it produces after hot summers.
We like to treat Japanese flowering dogwoods as we would a Japanese Maple, so plant them in deep fertile soil, ideally adding some ericaceous or acidic compost, in a sheltered position away from cold, drying winds. When planting choose a position where your dogwood will have room to grow, it should make 3 meters in 10 years, ideally where you can enjoy the beauty of its spring flowers, summer foliage and stunning autumn colour. We recommend the use of a micorrhizal root audited such as Rootgrow and a top dressing of a good general purpose fertiliser such as our Seagold. Keep an eye on watering for the first six months of establishment, making sure the compost remains moist but not waterlogged. Once established, Japanese dogwoods require very little maintenance more than an annual top dressing of fertiliser.
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