CORNUS continued
last updated 20/10/2014

Cornus nuttallii and its cultivars

The largest known C. nuttallii in this country is around 13m tall, but that is unusual! I would realistically expect nearer 5m!

There are two distinct types of growth habit; the vigorous upright grower, and the more cascading shrubby ones. The latter tends to be more typical of the hybrids with C. florida. All have stunning red and yellow autumn colours.

The flower bracts are the most spectacular in the group, sometimes giving a second flush in September. Like C. florida, they need full sun to ripen the wood to promote flower development. Occurring in May, the six bracts vary from star-shaped to round and over-lapping. They range from greeny-white to cream, sometimes developing a pink flush with age. Note that the hybrids have four bracts like their C. florida parent, although the overall size of the "flower" is reminiscent of C. nuttallii.

The cluster of true flowers in the centre of the bracts is larger than in the other species, and I was struck this last year by their scent. When they were fully open, it was delightful. I was frequently to be seen with pollen on my nose from getting just a bit too close!

See also the hybrids Cornus 'Ascona', 'Eddies White Wonder', 'Ormonde' and 'Pink Blush'

CORNUS 'Ascona '
(C. florida x C. nuttallii) A small tree with gently pendulous branches. Thus it becomes clothed down to the ground with large white flower bracts in May. Vivid red autumn colour.

CORNUS nuttallii 'Colrigo Giant'
This vigorous American form was named after the Columbia River Gorge in which it was discovered. It is a magnificent small tree of upright habit with enormous flower heads up to 15cm across.

CORNUS nuttallii 'Gold Spot'  
 An unusual form with leaves splashed, spotted and mottled golden yellow. It is a plant which I prefer potential purchasers to see before they buy because some people love it, and others hate it! Free flowering with star-shaped bracts which are greenish when young. It often produces a second flush of flowers in the autumn, which along with lovely autumn colours provides a long season of interest.

CORNUS nuttallii 'Monarch'
A selected form of broader habit than the two previous ones, with large rounded flower bracts and purplish young shoots. Stunning bright red autumn colour.

CORNUS nuttallii 'North Star'
A statuesque form of upright habit with incredibly large flower bracts and dark purple young shoots. It frequently produces a second flush of flowers in the autumn. Lovely autumn colour. The bracts do not expand to overlap, giving a star like effect.

CORNUS nuttallii 'Portlemouth'  
This first occurred in a garden near Salcombe, Devon. It is a splendid form of upright habit with large flower bracts in May and again in the autumn, along with good autumn colours.

CORNUS nuttallii 'Zurico' 
A new selection of this dramatic species which is the earliest flowering of the group.

CORNUS 'Ormonde' 
(C. florida x C. nuttallii) This has been given hybrid status, rather than just a form of C. nuttallii. A handsome small tree with the requisite large flower bracts! Superb autumn colour is almost fluorescent.

NEW CORNUS officinalis

CORNUS 'Pink Blush' 
(C. florida x C. nuttallii) This is a fantastic American hybrid Dogwood. As it is of the same parentage, it could be described as a pink-flowered C. 'Eddies White Wonder', but that might be stretching the point a little! It rapidly forms a symmetrical small tree and produces masses of large pink flushed flower bracts in June, darkening with age.

CORNUS 'Porlock'
(C. capitata x C. kousa) A sister seedling originally to the popular Cornus 'Norman Hadden', 'Porlock' is semi-evergreen dependant on the weather and location, though less evergreen than C. 'Norman Hadden'. (Consider it to be one step closer to it's kousa parentage.) Like its sibling, it bracts later in the summer, being at its best from June into July. The bracts open creamy white and mature to pink, going through a wonderful almost apricot phase. Due to its C. capitata parentage, it is not as hardy as the kousas, so site with care, though it seems to be a little hardier than C. 'Norman Hadden'. doubtless due to the greater influence of C. kousa in its genes!

CORNUS pumila 
Another gift from an American nurseryman, this little chap will never take centre stage, but I have to say it has grown on me! Staying low (about 0.5m) and bushy, it is ideal for ground cover, or in a natural woodland setting. It doesn't develop flower to speak of this country, but the soft orange autumn colours are extremely attractive. Easy too!

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