2017

 
 

Some trees just seem to have it all, including a pretty impressive name, like ‘Empress of China’. With such a grand title you expect a lot, and this variety of Chinese dogwood does not disappoint. It is properly called Cornus augustata ‘Elmsbry’ or Empress of China, and is one of the Kousa type dogwoods, that, in addition to their beautiful floral display, are noted for their heat tolerance and disease resistance and were indispensable in developing healthier, new cultivars of dogwood. And Cornus angustata goes one better. Not only is it vigorous and trouble-free, but it is evergreen. Yes, an evergreen dogwood, at least in areas where the winters are not too severe. And being evergreen it brings a whole new level of practicality for a dogwood such as hedging or screening. 'Empress of China' however will never be viewed as just a practicality. In early summer the tree is smothered in creamy white blooms, as much as 150 per branch. It is truly overwhelming since it looks
 like a large snow drift on the green summer lawn. When the blooms fade you're left with lovely, light-green leaves, glossy and about three inches long, reminiscent of a ficus tree. And the flowers are followed by bright red fruits, an inch wide, which are also edible. They are as pretty as strawberries though not quite as tasty.
'Empress of China' dogwood eventually reaches 20 perhaps 25 feet with a similar spread. This puts it in the small to medium category and applicable to most urban garden schemes. It can grow in sun or part-shade in moist organic soil and it requires good drainage. 'Empress of China' will grow throughout the UK, and across the southern half of the US as well as the milder coastal areas. It's also a good choice for Australia and New Zealand. As usual, this special tree will not be found in the popular landscape nurseries but more likely in a specialty, mail-order, plant nursery.

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Empress of China dogwood

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