In the town of Redway, about 20 minutes down the dirt road from our nursery, is a smell of the gods. If you drive down the hill toward Briceland and Shelter Cove you’ll quickly make your way into what’s locally called, Lower Redway. If you take the first road to the left, just before you cross the river you’ll find yourself in a dense redwood tree patch. Scattered throughout the speckled light you’ll smell before you’ll see the delicate, beautiful dogwoods.
Because of their location, and being my only experience with dogwoods, I always thought of them as fragile, high maintenance trees. But this is not always the case. As we searched the market for our product choices, we always tried to make sure the plants were hearty, easy(ish) to maintain, and of course beautiful. And amazingly enough, Cornus Kousa Dogwoods were on the list! Unfortunately I don’t know if our local dogwoods are the same variety, but I do know if given enough space, water, and loose soil the Cornus Kousa Dogwoods can grow to 20x20ft! Their canopy’s are naturally rounded which makes them a perfect candidate for accents along a driveway, or just a matched set at the main gate.
They fare much better outside in the country, but because of their magnificent scent and flowers, they are often placed into pots for use in smaller spaces. If you decide to plant in a pot make sure it’s in dappled shade. If the pot gets hot it’ll dry out and that’s not good. To keep them healthy and happy give them plenty of water, repot or break up the soil at least once a year and prune sparingly. Once the tree has settled, after the first year or two, you can prune the lower branches to accentuate the bark. This particular dogwood has a beautiful bark, portrayed to it’s best advantage on older larger trees.
Another highly attractive characteristic of the Cornus Kousa is not only the gorgeous flower but the sweet little red fruit they create. I personally had no idea dogwoods had fruit, but they are quickly devoured by birds, so that’s not surprising. If you can manage to keep the birds away long enough for the berries to cover the tree its certainly worth taking a photograph.
Sadly the flowers and berries are only around in the spring for a month, maybe two if you’re lucky, but that isn’t the only show this tree has to offer. In fall the leaves turn a varied shade of red, brown and maroon. The deep rich colors of the bark with the bright splash of color above is amazing.
It would seem all I’ve said would be enough for one tree to handle, but there’s more! Dogwoods, unfortunately I couldn’t find any information specific to Cornus Kousa Dogwoods, can also be used medicinally. The common flowering dogwood contains tannic acid, gallic acid, resin, gum, lignin, and potassa. Extracts can be used to induce vomiting, reduce fever, and as an astringent for the skin. Native Americans used dogwood for the above reasons as well as a remedy for colic. The ripe berries can also be put into a tincture and then mixed with whiskey or brandy. One of the coolest uses I found was as a rudimentary toothbrush. If you chew on the end of a stick it will break up into little hard strings, perfect for cleaning and whitening. Be gentle though, it can be rough on the gums.
As I said earlier, we want the plants we offer to be hearty, healthy and if possible, even good for you. Cornus Kousa Dogwoods are one that meets all our requirements and beyond. We currently have first, second and third year dogwoods for sale. They are available in bound root-balls. You can check out our website at www.milewidenursery.com or keep an eye out on eBay for us, we occasionally have some first years up for a great deal. See you out there.